“We understand by this term works produced by persons unscathed by artistic culture, where mimicry plays little or no part (contrary to the activities of intellectuals). These artists derive everything – subjects, choice of materials, means of transposition, rhythms, styles of writing – from their own depths, and not from the conventions of classical or fashionable art.” Jean Dubuffet, L’Art brut préféré aux arts culturels, octobre 1949
In 1918, after training at Académie Julian for only six months, Jean Dubuffet dropped out as he preferred to learn on his own, without any academic influence. By 1930, he spent the next 20 years making a living as a wine merchant and did not return to a full-time art career until the early 1940s.
Jean Dubuffet was one of the pioneers of the Art Brut, or raw art, a movement he launched with companions such as Michael Tapiés and André Breton. In response to academic art, conformism and mainstream culture, which Dubuffet described as “asphyxiating”, the artist was attracted to the art of children or outsiders such as prisoners, and the mentally ill.
Throughout the 1950s, he continued to experiment with raw materials in his art as a way of engaging the primitive values to which he sought to return. From the 1960s until his death in 1985, he developed his famous Hourloupe style including several large sculptures with stripes and three basic colors: red, blue and white.
Musée des Arts décoratifs, Paris
Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
Art Institute, Chicago
The Museum of Modern Art, New York NY
The National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
The title of a 1952 painting, The Traveler without a Compass, serves as the emblem of this exhibition by Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985), a prolific artist who turned non-knowledge into the regulating principle of his singular creation, marked by serial sets of works.