Jean Dubuffet

    Jean Dubuffet (1901 - 1985) was born in Le Havre, France. He attended art classes in his youth and in 1918 moved to Paris to study at the Académie Julian, but left after six months. He travelled to Italy in 1923 and South America in 1924, returning to work as an industrial draftsman and later in the family wine business. He committed himself to becoming an artist at the age of 41 in 1942. Dubuffet's first solo exhibition was at the René Drouin Gallery, Paris in 1944.

    Over four decades Dubuffet was both prolific and experimental, working across painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, writing and music. Known for his founding of Art Brut, or 'raw art', Dubuffet championed the work of untutored individuals, such as children, outsider and folk artists, and those living in isolation from society. He went on to assemble a collection of Art Brut, featuring 5,000 works by 133 artists that he donated to the city of Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1971. 

    For his monumental print project, the Phenomena series, made between 1958 and 1962, Dubuffet used sandpaper, flaming rags, and chemicals on lithographic stones, cutting up and collaging the resulting prints. Embracing chance and accident, this body of work is made up of 324 pieces, a selection of which were exhibited in a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 2014.

    Other major solo retrospectives include Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (2017); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2017, 1966); Instituto Tomie Ohtake, São Paulo (2009); Guggenheim Bilbao (2003); Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2001); Guggenheim Museum, New York (1981, 1966); Akademie der Künste, Berlin (1980) which travelled to Museum moderner Kunst, Vienna and Joseph-Haubrichkunsthalle, Cologne; Tate, London (1966); Palazzo Grassi, Venice (1964); Museum of Modern Art, New York (1962) travelling to Art Institute of Chicago; Musée des arts décoratifs, Paris (1961); and Schlo Morsbroich, Leverkusen, West Germany (1957). His work is held by almost every major museum in the world.

    Jean Dubuffet died aged 83 in 1985, in Paris, France.


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