Beautiful otherness

New Scientist has a gallery of artwork by savant artists, people who show exceptional artistic talents despite having impaired mental abilities in other areas.

Savantism is typically associated with autism to the point where many people assume that having a stand-out exceptional ability is present in everyone with the diagnosis.

This is not the case and although many people with autism-spectrum conditions will have a special interest, only about 10% will have what autism researchers Francesca Happ√© and Uta Frith call ‘the beautiful otherness of the autistic mind’.

Perhaps the most famous artist with autism is Stephen Wiltshire who can create stunningly vivid landscape paintings from a barely more than a single glance.

However, my favourite such artist is Jessica Park who paints the most striking paintings of buildings and architectural features but in the most inventively colourful way.

The New Scientist gallery is interesting take on the area as each picture has been selected to illustrate something about the psychology of savant abilities.

Link to New Sci ‘Savant art: A window into exceptional minds’.
Link to excellent Happé and Frith article on savantism.


  1. Posted June 12, 2009 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the links. Those are beautiful paintings. And interesting as well.

  2. thewaltonfirm
    Posted June 12, 2009 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    some of these remind me of Urville, which is a great example of savantist art:

  3. Posted June 14, 2009 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    that’s amazing. I never thought that my paintings had to do with my autism. i never even told my therapist I could paint. and they’re bloody strange in a similar way. Thanks!

Post a Comment

Required fields are marked *


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 26,864 other followers