Folk art encompasses art produced from an indigenous culture or by peasants or other laboring tradespeople. In contrast to fine art, folk art is primarily utilitarian and decorative rather than purely aesthetic. Folk Art is characterized by a naive style, in which traditional rules of proportion and perspective are not employed. Closely related terms are Outsider Art, Self-Taught Art and Naïve art.
As a phenomenon that can chronicle a move towards civilization yet rapidly diminish with modernity, industrialization, or outside influence, the nature of folk art is specific to its particular culture. The varied geographical and temporal prevalence and diversity of folk art make it difficult to describe as a whole, though some patterns have been demonstrated.
Characteristically folk art is not influenced by movements in academic or fine art circles, and, in many cases, folk art excludes works executed by professional artists and sold as "high art" or "fine art" to the society's art patrons. On the other hand, many 18th and 19th century American folk art painters made their living by their work, including itinerant portrait painters, some of whom produced large bodies of work.
Other terms that overlap with folk art are naïve art, tribal art, primitive art, pop art/popular art, outsider art, traditional art, tramp art, self-taught art, and working-class art/blue-collar art. As one might expect, these terms can have multiple and even controversial connotations but are often used interchangeably with the term "folk art".
Folk art expresses cultural identity by conveying shared community values and aesthetics. It encompasses a range of utilitarian and decorative media, including cloth, wood, paper, clay, metal and more. If traditional materials are inaccessible, new materials are often substituted, resulting in contemporary expressions of traditional folk art forms. Folk art reflects traditional art forms of diverse community groups — ethnic, tribal, religious, occupational, geographical, age- or gender-based — who identify with each other and society at large. Folk artists traditionally learn skills and techniques through apprenticeships in informal community settings, though they may also be formally educated.
Antique folk art 
Antique folk art is distinguished from traditional art in that, while collected today based mostly on its artistic merit, it was never intended to be 'art for art’s sake' at the time of its creation. Examples include: weathervanes, old store signs and carved figures, itinerant portraits, carousel horses, fire buckets, painted game boards, cast iron doorstops and many other similar lines of highly collectible "whimsical" antiques.
Contemporary folk art 
Many folk art traditions like quilting, ornamental picture framing, and decoy carving continue to thrive, while new forms constantly emerge. Since the 1960s the embellished bamboo pipe or chillum has become an American folk art form. These pipes are handmade, meant to be used, and often sold by the artists on street corners in places like the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco and the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. As designs these contemporary smoking pipes recall traditional decorated bamboo pipes from Africa and Borneo, however, the American carved bamboo design often employs a brass lighting fixture for a bowl. Since the 1970s, street artist Darrel "Pipeman" Mortimer of San Francisco has made nearly 10,000 bamboo pipes with incised, tattoo-like lines, each signed, numbered, and sold personally. Hemp is a frequent motif while Native American themes and designs reminiscent of Victor Vasarely or M. C. Escher are also common.
Contemporary folk artists are frequently self-taught while their work is often developed in isolation or in small communities across the country. The Smithsonian American Art Museum houses over 70 such artists. In early 80s other uncanny artistic talent of well known contemporary folk artist exist one of these is Elito Circa as amangpintor the famous Filipino folk painter, his paintbrushes created from his own hair and uses his hair as texture of his canvas, uses his own blood as paint and signs his name with his own blood on the right side of his paintings. He developed his own styles without professional training or guidance from the masters.
Influence on mainstream art 
Folk art, and styles and motifs, have inspired various artists. Pablo Picasso was inspired by African tribal sculptures and masks, while in Russia Natalia Goncharova and others were inspired by traditional woodcuts called luboks. In music, Igor Stravinsky's seminal The Rite of Spring was inspired by paganism.
See also 
- African folk art
- American Folk Art Museum
- Chinese folk art
- Guy Cobb
- Latin American Retablos
- Madhubani painting
- Mingei (Japanese folk art movement)
- Naïve art
- Nakshi Kantha
- Nose art
- North Malabar
- Outsider art
- Phad painting
- Pakistani vehicle art
- Thidambu Nritham
- Tribal art
- Warli painting
- Czech folklore
- West, Shearer (general editor), The Bullfinch Guide to Art History, page 440, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, United Kingdom, 1996. ISBN 0-8212-2137-X
- Bishop, Robert and Weissman, Judith Reiter. The Knopf Collectors' Guides to American Antiques: Folk Art. Knopf. 1983
- Dunhill, Alfred: "The Pipe Book", London, A & C Black, 1924
- Austin, Buck; "Darrel Mortimer", Alarm Magazine, Chicago, summer 2004
- Slide show of 73 works of folk art with brief descriptions Smithsonian American Art Museum. Retrieved July 6, 2011
- Goncharova Biography, Hatii, retrieved 19/2/2012
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