Jean Dubuffet: Works on Paper, Installation view
Van de Weghe is pleased to present an exhibition of works on paper by Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985). Influenced in part by Hans Prinzhorn’s book, Artistry of the Mentally Ill, Dubuffet is best known for his invention of the term art brut to characterize work by untrained artists including psychiatric patients, prisoners, and children. He felt that this work manifests a universal creative urge which culture and academia generally discourages with its reliance on reason and logic. Dubuffet drew inspiration from these ideas for his own work, tapping into his primal and spiritual energies. The works on view span nearly three decades, from 1950 through the late 1970s.
Two works, each titled Corps de Dame from 1950, demonstrate Dubuffet’s rejection of traditional standards of beauty in favor of what he believed to be a more authentic and humanistic approach to image-making. In one of them, crayon, gouache and watercolor is used in one to create a mottled, fleshy figure that emerges from a bruise-colored ground. Its blocky torso and tiny head resembles that of a prehistoric venus. Skinny arms, tiny breasts and a coil of hair are scrawled atop, graffito-like, in pencil. In the other, an ink drawing, the figure is given very different treatment, arms splayed specimen-like, the flesh comprised of vigorous scratchy lines and hatch marks.
The majority of the works in the show are from the early 1960s when Dubuffet utilized textural effects to address problems of figure and ground in a series of ink drawings. He dismisses the concept of perspective in favor of a more direct, two-dimensional presentation of space. Paysage, 1960, dispenses with the figure completely in favor of landscape. The work is a teeming amalgam of dots, dashes and splatters of ink encompassing the paper in its entirety. In two works from 1960, each titled Personnage dans un paysage, the human figure simultaneously emerges from and melds with its surroundings, indicating a continuity between man and nature. Tête de profile, 1960 employs a range of improvisational mark-making, evoking the figure as a kind of ecosystem whose energy can barely be contained by the body.
Dubuffet believed that art is a language unto itself, an instrument of a basic and primal expression more effective than the written word. It is Dubuffet’s “unlearning” of art history and academic technique and his focus on the urgent need to create as his main subject that remains fresh and fascinating. Gallery hours are Monday-Friday, from 10:00am to 6:00pm, and by appointment. For further information, please contact Pierre Ravelle-Chapuis at Pierre@vdwny.com.