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Art Brut

Pushing the Boundaries of Body Art

By Meghan Mahar

This month in Williamsburg, local ink shop Tattoo Culture will host the French tattoo artist Noon, of Boucherie Traditionnelle. Noon’s style of tattooing has been dubbed the “Art Brut” of tattooing, which translates to “raw art” in French. “The stuff he does is similar to naïve-art, childish, and primitive, but a custom-made, sophisticated, stylized version of it,” says Dave Wallin, a Tattoo Culture artist and employee. “Noon uses muted colors and loose lyrical lines in his work,” explains Wallin, “ Other artists with this style tend to use simple lines and only black.”

This style of tattooing has mainly stayed within the French borders until recently. Noon will be taking appointments for tattoos at the end of January, while another legendary French tattoo artist of the Art Brut style, Yann Black, opens a new tattoo shop in Canada with fellow artist Olivier of Toulouse. The Art Brut style was traditionally known as art produced by people outside the art world, or self-taught artists, particularly crude or obscene works. Jean Dubuffet who used it to describe art outside the boundaries of official culture coined the term. His work specifically centered on the works of insane asylum inmates.

Noon himself was a self-taught tattoo artist with an interesting past. Before he ventured into the world of tattooing he was a butcher, his family’s business for over 200 years. Then in 1997 after the industry suffered due to Mad Cow Disease, he decided to switch careers. He explained, “I went from the art of the animal to the art of the human.”

Yann Black, who is credited with being the founding father of the Art Brut style, has a technique that is unique to anyone else. His tattoos push the limits of what has previously been accepted as “tattoo art.” His style has been characterized as “Egon Schiele meets Edward Gorey meets Picasso,” by the SF Gate.

The Art Brut style is just now making its debut on American soil, although artists such as Noon and Yann Black are well known throughout the European Union. The style has a raw and primitive look, but at closer inspection it is apparent there is a great deal of technique and talent that goes into the tattoos. The Art Brut style of tattooing takes the human body and turns it into a canvas of fine art, each tattoo being undeniably original.

Tattoo Culture
129-A Roebling Street

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