Singular Spaces: From the Eccentric to the Extraordinary in Spanish Art Environments

Bill Swislow, in his review in The Outsider 19 (Fall 2014) called this “…the most impressive single volume of research ever published in the field of self-taught art.”

Singular Spaces front cover

This project is a groundbreaking survey of art environments created by self-taught artists from across Spain, most of whose idiosyncratic sculptures, gardens, and buildings have never before been fully documented, let alone published or exhibited. These sites are developed organically and improvisationally, without formal architectural or engineering plans; they are at once evolving and complete. Often highly fanciful, colorful, and quixotic, the work is frequently characterized by incongruous juxtapositions, an approach that makes the work appear impulsive and spontaneous.

The exhibition includes photographic documentation as well as selected artifacts by several of the artists, some of which were created especially for this display. Among the artists included are Josep Pujiula, renowned internationally for his “woven” wooden towers and labyrinths (Argelaguer, Catalunya) and Francisco González Gragera, whose Capricho de Cotrina (Los Santos de Maimona, Extremadura) is an outstanding example of architectural art brut. In conjunction with the exhibition, a book has been published by leading outsider art imprint Raw Vision, which features detailed case studies of the artists and their work, along with contextualized historical and theoretical references to art history, anthropology, architecture, Spanish area studies, and folklore. Copies of the book, which includes over 1100 pages and over 5000 images divided between the hard copy and an enclosed CD, are available through the gallery for purchase, or at Amazon and other internet sites. Selected photographs were displayed at the Fowler Museum at UCLA from April 12 through September 2015.

The project was undertaken by Jo Farb Hernandez, Director of SPACES – Saving and Preserving Arts and Cultural Environments – and of the Natalie and James Thompson Art Gallery at San Jose State University (California), and is a product of almost fourteen years of research. Research is ongoing for a projected Volume II.


Other comments:

Roger Cardinal, international authority on self-taught art and the author of the 1972 book Outsider Art:

“This publication is a model of thoroughness and its enthusiasm for the subject makes it stand out as a truly outstanding achievement, brimful of wonders and shafts of understanding…. [The book] is a cornerstone for something massive, a worldwide archive, an ubiquitous and monumental record of humanity’s innate impulse to create. This is truly a masterpiece.”


Laurent Danchin, French editor of Raw Vision and widely published art critic and writer:

“…a groundbreaking event in the field of ‘architecture without architects.’”


John Foster, designer, writer, and curator:

“…an extraordinary and important scholarly effort in the world of art.”

Extraordinary Spanish Art Environments


Susana Blas Brunel,  writer for Spanish television TVE2 cultural programming and art historian, moderator for the presentation of the book at Madrid’s Reina Sofia Museum on December 17, 2015:

“…Esta “enciclopedia” de Jo Farb Hernandez…me ha dejado sin palabras. ¡Una vida dedicada a recopilar e investigar los entornos de arte bruto en España!”

[Jo Farb Hernandez’s encyclopedia has left me speechless. She has spent her life dedicated to investigating and writing about Spain’s art environments!”

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For further information, see

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