The Flintridge Press

Filed under Opinion

Classifying and Defending Prep’s Strangest Art

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






I began my journey thinking about two pieces of art: one drawing by Lukas Hutzler ‘17 from the 2016-2017 Folio, and one drawing by Andrew Lathrop ‘18 from the 2017-2018 Folio. These drawings spoke my language. Energetic, strange, entirely youthful, and made on lined paper, it was like a friend was showing me his doodles from class. And in the pages of Folio!

Photo courtesy David Egan
Art by Lukas Hutzler ’17

Photo courtesy David Egan
Art by Andrew Lathrop ’18

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These drawings are raw, but I refuse to accept that they cannot be analyzed. Lukas shows a great deal of technical skill in the lines he has drawn, and Andrew’s illustration is funny and heartbreaking. How fearless of these boys to submit such candid drawings to Folio! These raw lines have been featured in the esteemed, well-funded book that can be described with such elegant words as annual literary and arts magazine. They have been placed alongside beautiful oil paintings and photographs and ceramic bowls. I was on a mission to find out: What are these drawings? Why, if at all, are they considered art?

I brought these drawings to visual arts teacher Ms. Manfull, with the hope of making sense of them. Thankfully, I was not in over my head; Ms. Manfull told me that these drawings can be classified under the century-old artistic style of “naive art” or “outsider art.” I had somewhere to look.

I found outsider art to be a fascinating style. Encyclopedia Britannica defines it as “any work of art produced by an untrained idiosyncratic artist who is typically unconnected to the conventional art world—not by choice but by circumstance.” This, rather perfectly, describes Andrew and Lukas. Neither Andrew nor Lukas were in drawing classes, deeming them “untrained,” and being high school students, they were inherently unconnected to the conventional art world. An alternative definition of outsider art, provided by Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art is “work of artists who demonstrate little influence from the mainstream art world and who instead are motivated by their unique personal visions.”

Photo courtesy David Egan
Art by Siberian artist Foma Jaremtschuk (1907-1986), drawing “Untitled”

Interestingly, these Prep alumni are not only “outsider artists” by definition, but also stylistically. Look up “outsider artists” — you will see similarities between that work and the work of Andrew and Lukas. I saw many similarities between the works our Prep alumni and Foma Jaremtschuk (1908-1986), who was diagnosed with schizophrenia and made drawings for his psychiatrist. Jaremtschuk’s monster-creature subject is almost identical to Lukas’s and Jaremtschuk’s use of writing is similar to Andrew’s. The use fantasy, writing, two-dimensionality, and available materials, are constant in a lot of these images. However, they are also different in many ways — outsider art is, after all, defined by “unique personal visions.”

It is clear why this style appeals to teenagers, not least because of our postmodern culture. Ironic humor, edgy memes, and vulgar music paint the landscape of high school lives, and “Outsider art” goes hand in hand with this contemporary psychological state.

Material enhances the art of both traditional outsider artists and the art of Hutzler and Lathrop. They all use materials common to them and accessible to anyone. Ms Manfull noted the importance of materials in art. She said, “Depending on what you want to say and how you want to say it and who you’re communicating with, you’re going to use certain types of materials.”

Bill Traylor, born into slavery in 1854, made drawings in Montgomery, Alabama.

The intended audience of Hutzler and Lathrop’s drawings, I would argue, is young people. More specifically, high school students. In using pen and lined paper—literal college ruled notebook paper and ballpoint pen in Lathrop’s case—this art pulls from the style of a student’s notebook “doodles,” and gives insight into the artist and audience of the piece. Good art uses material and medium hand-in-hand with the message of a work.

While this style of art is simple and characterized by a lack of training, works of “outsider art” are important and I am personally a fan. Whether they should be on the walls of museums or the pages of literary and arts magazines, that is not up to me. However, making art that challenges traditional standards, ties idea with material, has a clear audience and pulls from the mundane (in this case doodles), and a historical reference (in this case traditional “outsider art”) — is what makes good art good.

Ms. Manfull agreed with me on the intended audience of the works of Andrew and Lukas. “I wouldn’t feel like that was made necessarily for me,” she said. “That’s ok, too. I think that’s actually great. Because I can still see it, and read into it.”

About the Contributor
David Egan, Video Editor and Staff Writer

Grade:  11

Years on Staff:  1

What do you like to do in your free time?  Enjoy a nice meal.

Why are you writing for The Flintridge Press? ...

Navigate Left
  • Classifying and Defending Prep’s Strangest Art

    Opinion

    The Lie of the Migrant Caravan

  • Classifying and Defending Prep’s Strangest Art

    Opinion

    Men in the Movement

  • Classifying and Defending Prep’s Strangest Art

    Opinion

    Republicans Got Their Man, And Untold Women Were Caught In The Crossfire

  • Classifying and Defending Prep’s Strangest Art

    Opinion

    Believe in Something, Even if it Means Sacrificing Very Little

  • Classifying and Defending Prep’s Strangest Art

    Opinion

    2018-2019: Safer Schools Through Gun Laws, Armed Personnel, or Counselors?

  • Classifying and Defending Prep’s Strangest Art

    Opinion

    Legislative Logjam: Playing Politics With the Supreme Court

  • Classifying and Defending Prep’s Strangest Art

    Opinion

    McCain Beyond the Grave

  • Classifying and Defending Prep’s Strangest Art

    Opinion

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Effect on the Democratic Party

  • Classifying and Defending Prep’s Strangest Art

    Opinion

    Stop Romanticizing Mental Illness.

  • Classifying and Defending Prep’s Strangest Art

    Arts at Prep

    (W)BOO! Halloween Spooks at This Year’s Fall Play

Navigate Right
The Student-Run News Site of Flintridge Preparatory School
Classifying and Defending Prep’s Strangest Art