One day, Ferdinand Cheval, a French postman, came across a stone at Hauterives near Lyon, and was fascinated by its strange, evocative shape. He spent the next three decades collecting stones, shells, and fossils, and used them to build the Palais idéal.
Cheval’s palace is one of many works of architectural fantasy in this book, the result of over 20 years’ research by celebrated architectural photographer Deidi von Schaewen. Like Cheval, the creators of these extraordinary worlds simply started building, with no rules to guide them and, in most cases, no previous artistic experience. These fantasy palaces, bizarre sanctuaries, and colorful sculpture gardens seldom follow a plan. Often the artists continued building for many years, sometimes until their dying day.
Their work is impossible to categorize: Art brut, architecture without architects, self-taught art, fantasy architecture in the tradition of Piranesi, non-academic architecture, Outsider Art — none of these definitions quite encapsulates this worldwide phenomenon. Eccentric hideaways like the Tour de l’Apocalypse in Belgium, the Junkerhaus at Lemgo or the Owl House in South Africa appear alongside Simon Rodia’s Watts Towers, which dominate the cityscape of Los Angeles. To venture into this world is to immerse oneself in the collective unconscious.
The addresses of sites open to the public are listed in the appendix.
Deidi von Schaewen, who has lived in Paris for thirty years, is a contributor to a range of international periodicals and a filmmaker, and has published numerous books. Her publications with TASCHEN include Indian Interiors, Fantasy Worlds, Gardens of Provence, and Inside Africa.
John Maizels studied Fine Art at Chelsea School of Art in London. He is an expert on Outsider Art, and in 1989 founded Raw Vision, an international journal of Outsider Art. He has written numerous articles on the subject and is the author of Raw Creation: Outsider Art and Beyond.
|Language/s||English, French, German|
|Collection||TASCHEN's 25th anniversary|