Jean Dubuffet France, 1901-1985


Jean Dubuffet (b. 1901, Le Havre, France; d. 1985, Paris, France) was a French painter, sculptor, and printmaker, best known for developing the concept of “Art Brut”. Studying at the Académie Julian in Paris beginning in 1918, Dubuffet met other creatives such as Fernand Léger, Raoul Dufy, and André Breton. He was particularly influenced by Hans Prinzhorn’s 1922 book on psychopathic art and later, in 1948, along with Breton, founded the Compagnie de l’Art Brut. Frustrated by the overly intellectual art of the time, this movement explored the interiority of human emotion, utilizing a primitive and childlike approach—a return to figuration in the purest form. Dubuffet continued to challenge aesthetic boundaries, experimenting with crude materials like tar, gravel, cinders, ashes, and sand combined with varnish and glue. Using tools of the common man, including ballpoint and felt tip pens, Dubuffet would often begin his work with simple but obsessive scribbles, finishing with vibrant flashes of white, blue, red and black. Later in life he began producing numerous monumental outdoor sculptures as well as theater props known as “practicables.” Dubuffet remained in Paris until his death in 1985. His work has been shown at many notable international institutions such as The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Palazzo Grassi, Venice; The Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London. He was also the subject of a major retrospective at the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre George Pompidou, Paris in 2001.