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Jean Dubuffet ( French, b. 1901 - d. 1985 )

Jean Dubuffet (b. 1901 - d. 1985)

Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985) began painting at the age of seventeen and studied briefly at the Académie Julian, Paris. He lived in Montparnasse, where, in addition to painting, he read widely in ethnology, paleography, and ancient and modern literature. After seven years, he abandoned painting and became a wine merchant. During the thirties, he painted again for a short time, but it was not until 1942 that he began the work which has distinguished him as an outstanding innovator in postwar European painting.

Dubuffet's interest in art brut, the art of the insane, and that of the untrained person, whether a caveman or the originator of contemporary graffiti, led him to emulate this directly expressive and untutored style in his own work. His paintings from the early forties in brightly colored oils were soon followed by works in which he employed such unorthodox materials as cement, plaster, tar, and asphalt-scraped, carved and cut and drawn upon with a rudimentary, spontaneous line. Variations of this method of working preoccupied him until 1962, when he wrote and illustrated a book, L'Hourloupe, in which he evolved a new stylistic and ideological concept for his later work, both paintings and plastic sculpture.

In addition to his paintings and sculptures, Dubuffet has been a prolific writer, the author of several volumes of essays and letters that are poetic and whimsical in spirit, comparable to his work as a painter.

American interest in Dubuffet began with his exhibition at the Pierre Matisse Gallery in New York in 1947 and continued with retrospectives at both the Museum of Modern Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. An example of his outdoor sculpture, well known to New Yorkers, Groupe de Quatre Arbres from 1969-72, is located at Chase Manhattan Plaza downtown. In addition, examples of his work can be found in the following museums: Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim, New York; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and the Tate Gallery, London.