Jean Dubuffet, 1943-1963: Paintings, Sculptures, and Assemblages

Overview

In 1942 Jean Dubuffet, a Parisian wine merchant, retired from his successful business and took up another line of intoxicants. The late-blooming artist-Provocateur enjoyed immediate success, despite negative reviews and charges of vulgarity. Fiercely independent and iconoclastic, Dubuffet (1901-1985) disdained classical notions of beauty and reason in favor of visual rawness and instinct. In his work, he employed a crude pictorial style and often favored nontraditional materials such as leaves, butterfly wings, ...
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Overview

In 1942 Jean Dubuffet, a Parisian wine merchant, retired from his successful business and took up another line of intoxicants. The late-blooming artist-Provocateur enjoyed immediate success, despite negative reviews and charges of vulgarity. Fiercely independent and iconoclastic, Dubuffet (1901-1985) disdained classical notions of beauty and reason in favor of visual rawness and instinct. In his work, he employed a crude pictorial style and often favored nontraditional materials such as leaves, butterfly wings, and sponges. Jean Dubuffet 1943-1963 examines paintings, sculptures, and assemblages from what many critics believe to be the most innovative period in the artist's long career. Beginning with Dubuffet's first mature works, which depict daily life and reflect elements of popular culture in Paris, the book spans his whimsical paintings, imaginary landscapes, comical cows, and portrait caricatures of well-known French writers, literary critics, and artists, including artist Jean Fautrier, diarist and theater critic Paul Leautaud, novelist Andre Dhotel, critic and publisher Rene Bertele, and poet and critic Georges Limbour, who was also a boyhood friend. The book also includes several essays on the artist and his work, and numerous quotes from Dubuffet's writings are in the catalogue section. Susan J. Cooke discusses the artist's portraits from 1946 to 1947, noting their continuing ability to startle, disturb, and amuse. Jean Planque reminisces about his long relationship with the artist, describing Dubuffet as a man of extremes - spontaneous, impatient, discreetly generous, with a love of contradiction and an extraordinary capacity for work. Peter Schjeldahl provides a succinct overview of Dubuffet's work and identifies Dubuffet's career as a long explosion that, as the artist said it would, defied the mainstream tradition of Western painting still in touch with the pictorial genres and aesthetic ideals inherited from the Renaissance. In addition to more t

A collection of Dubuffet's mature works (daily life and popular culture in Paris); whimsical paintings; imaginary landscapes; and caricatures of well-known French writers, literary critics, and artists. Companion to an exhibition at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. 103 illustrations, 93 in color.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Jean Dubuffet (1901-85) stood the French art world on its ear with the provocative--even insolent--works that he began to exhibit in the last years of WW II. This volume, which accompanies a show at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, presents examples of Dubuffet's painting and sculpture from that time through the early 1960s. His violent, nakedly two-dimensional art can be difficult to capture in photographs, depending as it does in great measure on knotty textures and eccentric color schemes for effect. On the whole, however, the reproductions here do it justice, as do the intriguing essays and notes. Schjeldahl, an art critic, enthusiastically explicates Dubuffet's role in what he sees as the collapse of Western art tradition; Cooke, a Ph.D. candidate at Columbia University, discusses Dubuffet's shocking portraits of France's literary elite, relating the scandal that their exhibition added to the then-current debate over the postwar role of collaborationist writers; art dealer Jean Planque offers personal reminiscences. This project will prove revelatory for those familiar only with Dubuffet's late works, the red, white and blue jigsaw puzzle confections for which he is best known. Demetrion is director of the Hirshhorn. (Sept.)
Library Journal
This exhibition catalog accompanies a Dubuffet retrospective at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. The period covered starts with the artist's first mature paintings and ends as he was beginning his L'Hourloupe series: the jigsawlike red, blue, and white pieces that occupied the rest of his career. The critical consensus has held that the 1943-63 span encompasses Dubuffet's most successful work. This catalog includes 90 well-chosen color plates, a selection of intriguing quotations from Dubuffet's writings and statements, and brief essays by Susan Cooke, Jean Planque, and Peter Schjeldahl. Although neither a comprehensive nor a groundbreaking addition to the literature on Dubuffet, this is an up-to-date and very enjoyable volume that will appeal to students and interested lay readers as well as specialists.-- Kathryn W. Finkelstein, M.Ln., Cincinnati
Booknews
Catalog for an exhibit of some 100 works--a tiny portion of the efforts of Dubuffet (1901-1985), the iconoclastic artist considered one of the pre-eminent creative spirits of his generation. Includes introductory essays and full-page color plates of each work. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560982999
  • Publisher: Smithsonian Institution Press
  • Publication date: 6/17/1993
  • Pages: 160

Table of Contents

Lenders to the Exhibition 6
Foreword 8
Acknowledgments 11
1942 and After: Jean Dubuffet in His Century 14
Jean Dubuffet's Caricature Portraits 20
A Reminiscence 34
Catalog of the Exhibition 41
Checklist of the Exhibition 146
Chronology 151
Solo Exhibitions 158
Selected Bibliography 164
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