Jean Dubuffet was a French artist known for his unconventional and groundbreaking approach to art. His unique style, often referred to as “Art Brut” or “raw art,” challenged traditional artistic norms and explored the realms of the subconscious. While Dubuffet’s work remains highly regarded, there are many lesser-known aspects of his life and career that are worth exploring. In this article, we will delve into ten fascinating facts about Jean Dubuffet that you may not have known before.

The Beginnings of the Art Brut Movement

One of Dubuffet’s most significant contributions to the art world was the development of the Art Brut movement. Inspired by the creations of psychiatric patients, prisoners, and self-taught artists, Dubuffet sought to break free from the constraints of traditional art and embrace the raw and unrefined artistic expression found in marginal cultures. He began collecting artworks created by these individuals, considering them to be authentic and free from the influence of art schools and popular trends.

Dubuffet’s interest in Art Brut led him to publish a series of essays on the subject, where he argued for the recognition of this often-dismissed form of artistic expression. He believed that Art Brut offered a more authentic reflection of the human experience, untouched by societal expectations or artistic conventions. His advocacy for this marginalized art form ultimately had a significant impact on the development of Outsider Art and influenced numerous artists seeking to explore new artistic territories.

The Founding of Compagnie de l’Art Brut

In 1948, Jean Dubuffet co-founded the Compagnie de l’Art Brut, an organization dedicated to promoting and preserving Art Brut. Alongside other artists, writers, and scholars, Dubuffet sought to catalog and document this raw and unfiltered art. The group amassed a vast collection of Art Brut works, including sculptures, drawings, and paintings, which they exhibited across Europe and the United States.

Compagnie de l’Art Brut played a crucial role in creating awareness and recognition for this unconventional art form. Not only did the organization exhibit Art Brut works, but they also actively sought out and engaged with the artists themselves. Dubuffet and his companions visited psychiatric hospitals, prisons, and remote communities in their quest to discover and support new Art Brut talents. The Compagnie de l’Art Brut’s efforts contributed to the widening acceptance of Art Brut as a legitimate and significant artistic movement.

Additional Facts about Jean Dubuffet

1. Dubuffet’s artistic career started relatively late in life. He was around 40 years old when he began fully dedicating himself to art.
2. Despite his initial interest in art, Dubuffet studied and worked in the family wine business for a significant portion of his life.
3. Dubuffet often used non-traditional materials in his art, such as sand, tar, and butterfly wings, to create texture and depth.
4. The artist had a fascination with graffiti and street art, using these influences to develop his unique style.
5. Over his career, Dubuffet created a vast number of art pieces, including paintings, sculptures, and graphic works.
6. His art often depicted distorted, primitive figures that celebrated the unconventional beauty found in everyday life.
7. In addition to his work as an artist, Dubuffet was also an art theorist, writer, and poet.
8. The Centre Pompidou in Paris, France, dedicated an entire wing to house the works of Jean Dubuffet.
9. Dubuffet’s artwork has been displayed in prestigious art museums and galleries worldwide.
10. One of his most famous series is “The Hourloupe,” an abstract and playful exploration of lines and shapes.

By delving into these lesser-known aspects of Jean Dubuffet’s life and career, we gain a deeper understanding of his groundbreaking contributions to the art world. His championing of Art Brut, establishment of the Compagnie de l’Art Brut, and unique artistic style continue to inspire and influence artists to this day.

Further reading
Jean Dubuffet: Anticultural Positions exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum