Jean Dubuffet (b. 1901, Le Havre, France; d. 1985, Paris, France) is widely recognized as the most innovative artist in post-war France. A pioneer of outsider art, or ‘art brut’, Dubuffet sought to redefine aesthetic norms by drawing on the art of children, iconoclasts and the insane. In his view, because mainstream culture would systematically appropriate and sterilise artistic developments, authentic art could only be created spontaneously, without concern for any audience. On the premise that art takes its language from the materials used, Dubuffet scratched, kneaded and painted on resin, before applying plaster, sand, tar and other elements with a palette knife. In later years, he created monumental sculptures, installations and collages.
Dubuffet moved to Paris in 1918 where he briefly studied art at the Académie Julian. In 1925, he began working in the wine trade but painted periodically until 1942, after which he devoted himself exclusively to painting. In 1948 he created the Compagnie de l’Art Brut, along with the André Breton and the critic Michel Tapié. His first solo exhibition was in 1944 at the Gallery René Drouin in Paris. His first solo exhibition in New York was held at the Pierre Matisse Gallery (1947). During his lifetime, major exhibitions of his work included: Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris (1960–61), Museum of Modern Art, New York (1962), Tate Gallery, London (1966), Guggenheim Museum, New York (1973) and Akademie der Künst, Berlin (1980).
Since his death in 1985, Dubuffet’s work has continued to be exhibited worldwide. Major retrospectives have been held at Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris (1991), Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC (1993), Saarland Museum, Saarbrücken, Germany (1999) and a centenary exhibition at the Centre Georges-Pompidou in Paris (2001).
Jean Dubuffet Tour aux récits
Installation at Smithson Plaza, from Sept 2020
(after maquette dated 19 July 1973)
Jean Dubuffet: Brutal Beauty
Jean Dubuffet: Brutal Beauty, the first major UK exhibition of the work of French artist Jean Dubuffet (1901–1985) in over 50 years, is now open at the Barbican Art Gallery in London, with support from Waddington Custot.
One of the most provocative voices in postwar modern art, Dubuffet rebelled against conventional ideas of beauty, hoping to capture the poetry of everyday life in a gritty, more authentic way. Drawn from international public and
private collections, Brutal Beauty brings together more than 150 works: from early portraits, lithographs and fantastical statues to enamel paintings, butterfly assemblages and giant colourful canvases.
Waddington Custot is delighted to support the exhibition, having premiered the work of Jean Dubuffet in the UK in 1972 and since staged 12 solo shows of the artist's work.
TEFAF New York 2022For TEFAF New York 2022, Waddington Custot presents a solo booth of paintings by the celebrated ‘enfant terrible’ of postwar French painting and vocal proponent of Art Brut, Jean Dubuffet (1901–1985). Rebelling against conventional ideas of beauty, Dubuffet captured the gritty authenticity of everyday life in Post-War France. In his persistent search for an oeuvre nouvelle (a style not borrowed... Read more
Exhibitions and Art Fairs
Frieze Masters 2023
Art Basel Miami Beach 2022
The works in this group presentation demonstrate the translation of drawing into the three-dimensional; towering monumental installations protrude from the walls, and curl up from floors, while the negative space of the picture plane is variously architecturally structured, or revealed through light and shade.
The exhibition includes works by Peter Blake, Enrico Castellani, Michael Craig-Martin, Ian Davenport, Jean Dubuffet, Barry Flanagan, Peter Halley, Hans Hartung, Frank Stella and Bernar Venet among others.
One of Bernar Venet’s iconic Indeterminate Line sculptures, created in rolled steel, shows the French artist’s approach to conceptualising and configuring space.
Mgarap Bangke, a 2004 wall-based sculpture by Frank Stella, similarly towers in a tangle of industrial materials, which the artist has coerced into curving organic forms. Moulded sections of dark carbon fibre are supported by circular loops of unpainted stainless-steel tubing and geometric rails.
A new painting by Ian Davenport, titled Yellow and Purple (Double), is also displayed, portraying the artist's use of colour as a tool to delineate space through controlled movements of vibrant paint.
Frieze New York
This diverse presentation of artworks spans several decades, with pieces connecting through a multitude of points.
Art Basel Hong Kong
Our presentation includes works by Chu Teh-Chun, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Peter Blake, Ian Davenport, Jean Dubuffet, Barry Flanagan, Hans Hartung, Pierre Soulages and Fabienne Verdier.