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Jean Dubuffet
Jean Dubuffet, 1901 — 1985
Jean Dubuffet (b.  1901, Le Havre, France, d. 1985, Paris) was a French artist whose work is marked by a rejection of academic training in favour of what he perceived to be a more meaningful and authentic approach to art. 
 
Born to a wine merchant family in Havre, Dubuffet moved to Paris to study painting at the Académie Julian in Paris in 1918 but dropped out after only six months, disillusioned with the teachings of the academy. For the next twenty years, Dubuffet worked as a soldier and a wine merchant. He resumed his career as a full-time artist in 1941, whereupon he began to develop the style and ideology that have cemented his reputation as one of the most significant avant-garde artists of the twentieth century. 
 
In the late 1940s, Dubuffet became increasingly interested in artwork produced by non-professional artists, such as art by prisoners, psychiatric patients and children, which he perceived as having greater insight into the human psyche. Influenced by the originality and humanity he saw in these examples of ‘outsider art’, Dubuffet developed a self-consciously primitive, surreal and childlike style which he termed 'Art Brut', suggesting the raw emotion and creative freedom that lay outside the mainstream traditions of art and high culture.
 
Dubuffet’s use of unconventional art materials reflects his pursuit of originality and materiality. His paintings from the 1940s pioneered the use of hautes pâtes, a ground that used items such as coal dust, pebbles, tar, asphalt, and glass to create roughly textured surfaces. From the early 1960s onward, Dubuffet developed a distinct style that saw figures surrounded in cell-like floating forms. These interlocking forms, developed from a simple doodle, would become a cornerstone of Dubuffet’s work, and signalled the beginning of his L’Hourloupe series.
 
Dubuffet’s first museum retrospective occurred in 1957 at the Schlo Morsbroich (now Museum Morsbroich), Leverkusen, West Germany. Exhibitions were subsequently held at the Musée des arts décoratifs, Paris (1960–61); Museum of Modern Art, New York, and Art Institute of Chicago (1962); Palazzo Grassi, Venice (1964); Tate Gallery, London, and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1966); and Guggenheim Museum (1966–67); Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Dallas (1966); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1966). 
 
His work is held in the public collections of many major institutions around the world, including the Tate Modern, London, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, and the Fondation Dubuffet, Paris.  Dubuffet’s most significant exhibitions have included the The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1973); Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, Rome (1989); Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (1990); Art Museum of Isetan, Tokyo (1997); National Museum of History, Taipei (1998); National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul (2006) and Instituo Tomie Ohtake, Sao Paulo (2009). In February 2021, the Barbican in London will open a retrospective of Dubuffet.
 
 
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Jean Dubuffet – Timothy Taylor