31 Rue du Dragon, 75006 Paris, France
In 1918, Jean entered the Académie Julian in Paris to study painting.
Jean Dubuffet in his studio.
Jean Dubuffet working on his sculpture in his studio.
Jean Dubuffet in his studio.
Jean Dubuffet in front of his work.
At the age of fifteen, Jean attended art classes. In 1918, he entered the Académie Julian in Paris to study painting. At the Académie, Jean befriended Juan Gris, André Masson and Fernand Léger. After attending classes for six months, he withdrew from the academy, deeming his studies useless, and started to study independently. During this time, Dubuffet developed many other interests, including music, poetry and the study of ancient and modern languages.
In 1923, Jean traveled to Italy and the following year, he visited the United States. In 1924, Dubuffet took over his father's wine business. In 1934, he started to paint again. It was at that time, that Jean produced a large series of portraits, in which he emphasized the vogues in art history. Some time later, he abandoned painting again and continued to develop his wine business in Bercy during the German Occupation of France.
In 1942, Dubuffet resumed his painting activity. At that period, his subjects included scenes from everyday life, for example, people sitting in the Paris Métro or walking in the country. Heavily influenced by the paintings of Jean Fautrier, Dubuffet began to take a similar approach to the texture of his paint, combining sand, gravel, tar and straw to his paintings to create a thick emulsion. The mixtures created a highly textured surface, providing the ideal ground for his raw, primal figures. As Jean became increasingly obsessed with texture, he began to limit his palette, focusing on dark, monochromatic surfaces and figures. At that time, Dubuffet also depicted the surrounding countryside, including childlike depictions of cows and milkmaids and later, he shifted to focus on urban landscapes and city dwellers. What is most striking about his work from this period is his deliberate evocation of ugliness. Dubuffet did not believe in the separation of the beautiful and the ugly, and, as such, declared, that ugliness did not exist. He expressed this in many of his paintings, including the series of portraits, entitled "Hautes Pates".
In October 1944, the painter held his solo exhibition at the Galerie Rene Drouin in Paris. This marked Dubuffet's third attempt to become an established artist. Three years later, in 1947, Jean also had a solo show at Pierre Matisse Gallery in New York City. The following year, in 1948, he established the organization Compagnie de l'Art Brut in Paris together with writers, critics and dealers from Dada and Surrealist circles. For the first public Art Brut exhibition at Galerie René Drouin in 1949, Dubuffet published a manifesto, in which he proclaimed the style's superiority over officially recognized art.
During the period from 1951 to 1952, Dubuffet lived in New York City. Some time later, he returned to Paris, where he had a retrospective of his work at the Cercle Volney in 1954.
In the early 1960's, Jean experimented with music and sound and made several recordings with a Danish painter Asger Jorn, a founding member of the avant-garde movement COBRA. At this time, he began his longest series, entitled L'Hourloupe (a word he invented), which possess a decorative quality, that is not evident in his earlier work. Most of Dubuffet's later works involved large painted polyester resin sculptures, which still retain his offbeat sense of humor, yet also have a grotesque and violent nature. These works included "Tour aux figures", "Jardin d'Hiver" and "Villa Falbala", in which people can wander, stay and contemplate. In 1978, Jean collaborated with American composer and musician Jasun Martz on the creation of the record album artwork for Martz's avant-garde symphony, entitled "The Pillory".
Jean Dubuffet continued to paint and draw throughout his declining health, working in Paris until his death in 1985.
It flute on the bump
Soul of the Underground
Site with four characters
The Blue Bird
Bedouin on a donkey
The Cow With The Subtle Nose
Life without the man III
Léautaud sorcerer Redskin
Arab camel saddled
Two female heads in profile
Landscape of Algeria
Times and places
Traveler in rich soil
Site to the man sitting
The low hours
Portrait de Georges Limbour
Double self-portrait in a bowler hat
View of Paris, small business
Walk in the forest
The teddy bear
Apartment Houses, Paris
Portrait of Armand Salacrou
Arab palm trees
Comings and goings
Rue de l'Entourloupe
The beautiful horned
Restaurant rougeot I
Moonrise in ghosts
The beautiful heavy breasts
I live in a country laughing
Grand Maitre of the Outsider
"For me, insanity is super sanity. The normal is psychotic. Normal means lack of imagination, lack of creativity."
"Unless one says goodbye to what one loves, and unless one travels to completely new territories, one can expect merely a long wearing away of oneself and an eventual extinction."
"In the name of what — except perhaps the coefficient of rarity — does man adorn himself with necklaces of shells and not spider's webs, with fox fur and not fox innards? In the name of what I don't know. Don't dirt, trash and filth, which are man's companions during his whole lifetime, deserve to be dearer to him and isn't it serving him well to remind him of their beauty?"
"Art is a language, an instrument of knowledge, an instrument of communication."
"Man's need for art is absolutely primordial, as strong as, and perhaps stronger than, our need for bread. Without bread, we die of hunger, but without art we die of boredom."
"I want my street to be crazy, I want my avenues, shops and buildings, to enter into a crazy dance, and this is why I deform and distort their outlines and colours. However I always come up against the same difficulty, that if all the elements were one by one deformed and distorted excessively, if in the end nothing remained of their real outlines, I would have totally effaced the location that I intended to suggest, that I wished to transform."
Paulette Bret was Jean's first wife, whom he married on February 25, 1927. Also, their marriage produced a daughter. Some time later, the couple divorced and Dubuffet married his second wife, Emilie Carlu, in 1937.