Jean Dubuffet French, 1901-1985


Jean Dubuffet was a French artist whose penchant for rebelling against the norms of society earned him almost as much notoriety as his art. Born in Le Havre, he learned rebellion as a small child. When he reached the age of 17, he left home and began his first endeavor to pursue a future in art, which lasted for only six months, as he became increasingly disillusioned with the art of the times. He decided to forego art and devote himself to running his father’s wine business. He was unable to completely abandon his painting entirely and, in the 1940’s, he finally succumbed to his love of art and returned to painting full-time.

Dubuffet could be viewed by some as one whose works were precursors to the pop art of the hippie era of the 1960’s. He expressed disdain for the mainstream art of his time, preferring to focus on the unusual, base, and unassuming styles of his art which would later be dubbed Art Brut, or Raw Art. He surrounded himself with artists who shared his views, and in 1944 he held his first show, which displayed his preference for subjects which represent the common, unassuming, and plain elements of life. In 1948, he joined with some of his colleagues to form the Art Brut Collection, which was heavily influenced by Dubuffet’s association with Dr. Hans Prinzhom, who became a mentor of sorts to Dubuffet. Through Dr. Prinzhom, Dubuffet became fascinated with the drawings made by children, as well as patients who lived in insane asylums.

In the 1960’s Dubuffet added sound, including music, to his art and also discovered his love for sculpting. Dubuffet remained true to his art and the philosophies which inspired it until his death in 1985.

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