www.bipolarartists.com is about the visual artistic expression of people with bipolar disorder, (BPD) or (manic-depressive illness) and schizoaffective disorder bipolar type. Our goal is to create a website to showcase works of art that express the thoughts and feelings of people with this rather elusive, puzzling and complicated “mood” disorder. People suffering from bipolar disorder are often seen as crazy, eccentric or difficult and misunderstood by others. This is because at times they may be full of life, abnormally happy, outgoing, talkative, loving with great dreams and ambitions willing to take great risks and then suddenly become withdrawn, irritable, angry, hateful, critical, mean and in many cases drunk and “disorderly” or suicidal. These are just some symptoms out of many combinations that exist within the bipolar spectrum.

It seems, at least on the surface, that people with bipolar disorder are very creative, sometimes brilliantly so and that they are “tuned in” and are able to express the realities of their time in literature, music and art. They seem to be deeply affected by the comedy and tragedy of life and are able to express it more poignantly than their contemporaries. This may be true.

There are professionals in the areas of psychiatry, psychology and medicine that are studying groups of bipolar individuals to see if there is a connection between bipolar disorder and creativity. There so far have been conflicting conclusions. However there are a handful of studies that have found people with BPD are more creative then control groups.

Regardless of the current knowledge into this illness as it relates to creativity, we believe that people with bipolar disorder have some unique perspectives on life and culture whether they be writers, musicians or visual artists. Many of the works of these artists are considered outsider art.

Outsider Art

Bedlum 1900The term outsider art was coined by art critic Roger Cardinal in 1972 as an English synonym for art brut (French: "raw art" or "rough art"), a label created by Jean Dubuffet  to describe art created outside the boundaries of Jean Dubuffet official culture. Dubuffet focused particularly on art by insane-asylum inmates.

While Dubuffet's term is quite specific, the English term "outsider art" is often applied more broadly, to include certain self-taught or Naïve art makers who were never institutionalized. Typically, those labeled as outsider artists have little or no contact with the mainstream art world or art institutions. In many cases, their work is discovered only after their deaths. Often, outsider art illustrates extreme mental states, unconventional ideas, or elaborate fantasy worlds.

www.bipolarartists.com is dedicated to helping visual artists exhibit their work. We encourage artists suffering from BPD to contact us so they may have an opportunity show their work to a wider audience. The illustration to the left is an etching of a patient in the Bethlehem Royal Hospital in London, England circa 1900.