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Jean Dubuffet Photo

Jean Dubuffet

French Painter, Printmaker, and Sculptor

Movements and Styles: Art Brut, Art Informel

Born: July 31, 1901 - Le Havre, France

Died: May 12, 1985 - Paris, France

Jean Dubuffet Timeline

Important Art by Jean Dubuffet

The below artworks are the most important by Jean Dubuffet - that both overview the major creative periods, and highlight the greatest achievements by the artist.

Apartment Houses, Paris (1946)
Artwork Images

Apartment Houses, Paris (1946)

Artwork description & Analysis: The painting Apartment Houses, Paris focuses on urban life. The buildings are tilted, playfully defying architectural integrity. The flattening of the space between the sky, buildings, and civilians seems spontaneous and unprocessed - childlike. Here Dubuffet satirizes conventional, sentimental images of Paris, suggesting instead that the jollity of the city's inhabitants is forced and false.

Oil with sand and charcoal on canvas - Private collection

Grand Maitre of the Outsider (1947)
Artwork Images

Grand Maitre of the Outsider (1947)

Artwork description & Analysis: This picture is typical of the Hautes Pates series that Dubuffet exhibited to huge controversy in 1946. A thick, monochromatic surface serves as the ground for the crudely depicted figure, which is a parody of portraiture. Although Dubuffet undoubtedly intended the series to offend and his graphic style and thick, coarse impasto certainly did offend conventional tastes, it is worth noting that the color palette is not as jarring as it might be. Dubuffet was at least cautiously mindful of the need for success.

Oil and emulsion on canvas - Private collection

The Cow With The Subtle Nose (1954)
Artwork Images

The Cow With The Subtle Nose (1954)

Artwork description & Analysis: Dubuffet's heady experience in the country and rejection of art education is evident in this painting. The heavily textured surface depicts a cow, rendered in the childlike innocence of patients held in psychological facilities. The uninhibited, savage approach to the canvas exemplifies the concepts of what Dubuffet termed Art Brut - the image seems entirely unschooled in the traditions of landscape. The image is thus at odds with the notions of "high art," and approaches art making from the direction of artistic purity uninfluenced by cultural advancement. Going a step further, Dubuffet suggests how "cultural" and "savage" approaches to art together work to reaffirm civilization as a whole.

Oil and enamel on canvas - The Museum Of Modern Art, New York

Soul of the Underground (1959)
Artwork Images

Soul of the Underground (1959)

Artwork description & Analysis: Soul of the Underground exemplifies Dubuffet's fascination with texture and his departure from representational painting. Inspired by the surface quality of Jean Fautrier's paintings, Dubuffet's use of aluminum foil and oil paint creates a coarse, uneven surface resembling mineral deposits. Here Dubuffet completely abandons pictorial representation in order to evoke sheer matter and sheer unprocessed material. It is part of a series of Texturologies that he worked on throughout the 1950s as he became more interested in evoking different sorts of texture.

After the horrible destruction of World War II, mud and dirt is what remained in plentitude. Rather than proclaiming that civilization had ceased, Dubuffet wanted to use the rubble to build anew and to purify for the future. In addition, the dirt is thought of as a material that has a natural structure that can be discovered, explored, and put to new uses.

Oil and aluminum foil on composition board - The Museum Of Modern Art, New York

L'Hourloupe (1966)
Artwork Images

L'Hourloupe (1966)

Artwork description & Analysis: Dubuffet's L'Hourloupe series began in 1962 and would preoccupy the artist for many decades. The inspiration came from a doodle he created while on the telephone, in which the fluid movement of line combines with limited fields of color to create movement. He believed the style evoked the manner in which objects appear in the mind. This contrast between physical and mental representation later encouraged him to use the approach to create sculpture.

Ink on paper - Galerie Jeanne Bucher, Paris

Monument with Standing Beast (1984)
Artwork Images

Monument with Standing Beast (1984)

Artwork description & Analysis: Monument with Standing Beast is another sculpture based on Dubuffet's Hourloupe series. The piece is one of his three monumental sculptures based in the United States. The sculpture is an abstract representation of a tree, a standing animal, and an architectural structure. The work evokes graffiti and cartoons, though it also plays on the contrast between mental images and real objects. The visitor is invited to wander and contemplate within the black and white walls of the sculpture.

Fiberglass - James R. Thompson Center, Chicago, IL



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Jean Dubuffet Photo

Related Art and Artists

The Scream (1893)

The Scream (1893)

Artist: Edvard Munch

Artwork description & Analysis: The significance of Munch's The Scream within the annals of modern art cannot be overstated. It stands among an exclusive group, including Van Gogh's Starry Night, Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, and Matisse's Red Studio, comprising the quintessential works of modernist experiment and lasting innovation. The fluidity of Munch's lateral and vertical brushwork echoes the sky and clouds in Starry Night, yet one may also find the aesthetic elements of Fauvism, Expressionism, and perhaps even Surrealism arising from this same surface.

The setting of The Scream was suggested to the artist by a walk along a road overlooking the city of Oslo, apparently upon Munch's arrival at, or departure from, a mental hospital where his sister, Laura Catherine, had been interned. It is unknown whether the artist observed an actual person in anguish, but this seems unlikely; as Munch later recalled, "I was walking down the road with two friends when the sun set; suddenly, the sky turned as red as blood. I stopped and leaned against the fence ... shivering with fear. Then I heard the enormous, infinite scream of nature."

This is one of two painted versions of The Scream that Munch rendered around the turn of the 20th century; the other (ca. 1910) is currently in the collections of the Munch Museum, Oslo. In addition to these painted versions, there is a version in pastel and a lithograph.

Oil, tempera, and pastel on cardboard - The National Gallery, Oslo

Bowl of Fruit, Violin and Bottle (1914)
Artwork Images

Bowl of Fruit, Violin and Bottle (1914)

Artist: Pablo Picasso

Artwork description & Analysis: Picasso's Bowl of Fruit, Violin and Bottle is typical of his Synthetic Cubism, in which he uses various means - painted dots, silhouettes, grains of sand - to allude to the depicted objects. This combination of painting and mixed media is an example of the way Picasso "synthesized" color and texture - synthesizing new wholes after mentally dissecting the objects at hand. During his Analytic Cubist phase Picasso had suppressed color, so as to concentrate more on the forms and volumes of the objects, and this rationale also no doubt guided his preference for still life throughout this phase. The life of the café certainly summed up modern Parisian life for the artists - it was where he spent a good deal of time talking with other artists - but the simple array of objects also ensured that questions of symbolism and allusion might be kept under control.

Oil on canvas - National Gallery, London

Carcass of Beef (1925)

Carcass of Beef (1925)

Artist: Chaim Soutine

Artwork description & Analysis: Here, Soutine cunningly portrayed the beef split open, as if bearing its soul to the viewer. Soutine's repeated use of animal carcasses as the subject matter for still life paintings likely stems from his complex relationship with food and his adoration of the work of Rembrandt. During his repeated visits to the Louvre, Soutine pondered the old master's Slaughtered Ox, which bears a strong resemblance to Carcas of Beef(1655). Unlike Rembrandt, Soutine isolated the subject and employed an unusual method in the creation of this still life. After hanging the side of beef bought at a Parisian slaughterhouse in his studio, he had his assistant fetch a bucket of fresh cow's blood every few days and, while painting this work, Soutine would repeatedly pour blood over the carcass to ensure it maintained the bright color of freshly cut beef. Meanwhile, his assistant fanned away flies and neighbors complained to the police about the smell, even causing health inspectors to almost cart the beef away. Luckily his assistant intervened, as Soutine was far too engrossed in painting, and the artist was allowed to finish what is largely regarded as his masterpiece. The very visceral image of Soutine pouring blood over the carcass, as well as rapidly applying layer after layer of liquid paint to the canvas, recalls the later action painting of the mid-twentieth century. A direct link to this painting can be found in the work of Francis Bacon, which reflects the dark, emotional turmoil of Soutine as well as the use of anthropomorphized beef to reveal the artist's psyche.

Oil on canvas - The Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, NY

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Content compiled and written by Larissa Borteh

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Larissa Borteh
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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