Monday, 13 February 2012

Jean Dubuffet, fascinating legacy @ Pace Gallery, New York

An exhibition of Jean Dubuffet at Pace Gallery in New York can still teach us a few things about how to approach painting and abstraction. The Pace Gallery show: 'Jean Dubuffet: The Last Two Years' is on view at 510 West 25th Street to 10th March, 2012. Check out the Press Release pdf here.

Jean Dubuffet in his studio, c.1960's

“To see the last works, is to see all of Dubuffet, his theoriescontracted into an energetic force comprised of wild, fluid brushstrokes that appear as if they could escape from the confines of any boundaries imposed upon them.” Pace Curator, Harmony Murphy.

Dubuffet was one of the many diverse artists in Europe after WWII that championed 'other' art, that used, much like the Americans did through Abstract Expressionism, the idea of 'automatism' and Surrealism as a new approach to painting through Art Informel.
In 1983 Dubuffet unleashed an extended color palette across the canvas, removing the borders and a representational reference point. Nearly twenty works drawn from the final two bodies of work by the artist.
Jean Dubuffet 'Mele Moments' Acrylic and collage mounted on canvas, 1976
(c) The Pace Gallery
Dubbuffet was very significant in questioning how and why we look at art and painting in a formulaic way, he also champoined 'Outsider Art', checkout the Foundation Jean Dubuffet. He worked in abstraction as well as with a figurative, childlike motifs and often with a violent gestural mark-making, a broad legacy..
Jean Dubuffet 'Radieux météore' 1952
In a letter to the Pace dealer, Arne Glimcher, towards the end of his life, Dubuffet explained his conception for the painting:
'These paintings were intended to challenge the objective nature of being (être). The notion of being is presented here as relative rather than irrefutable: it is merely a projection of our minds, a whim of our thinking. The mind has the right to establish being wherever it cares to and for as long as it likes. There is no intrinsic difference between being and fantasy (fantasme); being is an attribute that the mind assigns to fantasy. One could apply the term ‘nihilism’ to this challenge of being, but it is reverse nihilism, since it confers the power of being on any fantasy whatsoever, given that being is a secretion of our minds. These paintings are an exercise for training the mind to deal with a being that it creates for itself rather than one imposed upon it.
The mind should get rid of the feeling that it alone must change while being cannot change; the mind will train itself to vary being rather than varying itself, the mind will train itself to move through a space in which being is variable and never anything but a hypothesis, the mind will practice using its ability to provide its own fulcrums wherever it wishes, it will learn to rely on illusion, to create the ground on which it walks. The mind will learn how to move through all the various degrees of being, and it will feel at ease when being is undependable, flicks on and off, remains potential, and sleeps or wakes at will. Being and thinking are one and the same.'
Jean Dubuffet 'Mire G 147 Kowloon' October 11 1983, acrylic on canvas-backed paper (c) Foundation Jean Dubuffet
'I have been painting for 40 years, I don't think it is good for my health.' Jean Dubuffet


  1. Check out (and like) the art review of Jean Dubuffet's exhibit The Last Two Years:

  2. Thanks for this, shall check this out, its had some good reviews all round..