Dissertation – the differences between autistic and non-autistic artists


Perhaps the differences in the creative process between people in the autism spectrum and people diagnosed as “normal” are not as many as professionals and the general public thinks.

Above are presented two paintings, the first one is a self-portrait by the famous genius Pablo Picasso dated from 1907, more than a century ago, and the one on the left is a portrait done by artist Oliver Chan (2014). As mentioned before, Oliver is an autistic individual, and Picasso is out of the autism spectrum but their art seems very similar in how it looks: the two artists seem to have used the same colour palette and the same process/style of drawing; the pictures show a common use of muddy and warm colours such as yellows, browns and nude skin tones. There are also similarities in the usage of heavy and sharp lines, to delineate both facial features and limits between colours.

Another aspect to take in consideration is the time when these were created. Although Picasso painted this self-portrait 109 years ago, the two paintings are brilliantly similar in their aspects, which shows that no matter how different the time when a painting was created or the medical characteristics of the artist (autistic features) are, two artists can create art that is very much alike. Considering how different their backgrounds are, especially the socially and artistically, the same kinds of paintings are still applied and appreciated today. The fact that these images show similar art belonging to a non-autistic and an autistic individuals is something that shows some kind of empowerment to both “normal” and mentally diseased people and it also makes researches question if there is a need to separate these people into categories that only raise more social isolation and that trace more differences in how autists work and live in society, and how outsiders see them.


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