Art Environments

 We call Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens an art environment.

Art environments are permanent large scale artworks that encompass an entire space and surround the viewer. Their creators often have no formal art training and use unusual materials to elaborately embellish their environments. Their work represents their extreme individualism and is influenced by personal experiences or mythologies. The artists’ devotion to their creations is often all-consuming and spans years or decades.

Other Art Environment Creators

PMG Creator Isaiah Zagar makes many references to other artists and the art environments they have created throughout Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens.

Learn more about some of these artists.

Resources about Art Environments

  • SPACES Archives: SPACES—Saving and Preserving Art and Cultural Environments—is dedicated to the study, documentation, and preservation of art environments and self-taught artistic activity. It hosts the largest online resource for finding art environment sites around the world.
  • Kohler Foundation: Kohler Foundation is a leader in the preservation of art environments. They have preserved numerous site throughout Wisconsin, where they are based, and across the United States.
  • John Michael Kohler Arts Center: Since the 1970s, the Arts Center has been involved in the preservation, study, and exhibition of artist-built environments. In 2021 they opened the Art Preserve, which houses their collection of over 35 art environments.
  • Raw Vision: Raw Vision is the world’s only international journal of Outsider Art, the art of “unknown geniuses” who are untrained, unschooled and uninfluenced by the art world. They often feature articles about art environments and their creators from around the world.

Art Environments Resource Sheet

Find all these resources, as well as lists of books, films, and more about Art Environments in this PDF: