Jean Dubuffet

Jean Dubuffet (1901 – 1985) resisted authority from an early age. He didn’t see the art world in the way that society saw it at the time. He was greatly influenced by Hans Prinzhorn’s book Artistry of the Mentally Ill and found the art of the insane and of children to be far superior to the works considered to be great by critics, museums and collectors. He coined the term Art Brut, meaning “raw art” and while he intended for that term to be the descriptor for works by the mentally ill and children, it became the term critics used for his work.

He seemed to juggle being an advocate and admirer of Art Brut and the beauty in the naïve artistic expressions, with his own intellectual approach and view of those works. His writings of the Art Brut works in some ways countered the very root of the artwork, by intellectualizing it in a way that seemed foreign to the primitive work itself.

It’s a fascinating path to learn more about and to explore in our own studios and life. There is so much value in the pure, uninhibited approach to our work and our lives, yet the awareness required to recognize that and to deflect the things that may cause us to deviate from our path seems to be the most elusive element.— angela


“Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985) began painting at the age of seventeen and studied briefly at the Académie Julian, Paris. After seven years, he abandoned painting and became a wine merchant. During the thirties, he painted again for a short time, but it was not until 1942 that he began the work which has distinguished him as an outstanding innovator in postwar European painting. Dubuffet’s interest in art brut, the art of the insane, and that of the untrained person, whether a caveman or the originator of contemporary graffiti, led him to emulate this directly expressive and untutored style in his own work. His paintings from the early forties in brightly colored oils were soon followed by works in which he employed such unorthodox materials as cement, plaster, tar, and asphalt-scraped, carved and cut and drawn upon with a rudimentary, spontaneous line. Jean Dubuffet has been represented by the Gallery since 1967.” >> Pace Gallery