Progression of Art
Apartment Houses, Paris
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
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
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
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
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
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