Jean Dubuffet is one of the most influential and versatile artists of the postwar period. With his novel aesthetic inspired by Art Brut (a term he coined), Dubuffet succeeded in breaking away from modernist conventions and redefining the concept of art, and in doing so leaving his mark on the second half of the 20th century and exercising a considerable influence on numerous young artists. Jean Dubuffet: Metamorphoses of Landscape―the first substantial English-language Dubuffet monograph in decades―is published for a large-scale retrospective at the Fondation Beyeler, with around 100 major works from all of the artist’s important creative phases. It opens with an exploration of Dubuffet’s multilayered notion of landscape, which the artist transforms into bodies, faces or objects. Dubuffet experimented with new techniques and materials, and in the process created a completely independent, fascinating pictorial cosmos. Besides important paintings and sculptures from international museums and private collections, the book also presents the ensemble of figures from Dubuffet’s stage play Coucou Bazar, his unparalleled Gesamtkunstwerk synthesis of the arts.
The French painter, sculptor and writer Jean Dubuffet (1901–85) evolved his style of art from pictures created spontaneously by children, self-taught artists and the mentally ill. In 1948 he founded the Compagnie de l’Art Brut which advocated working artistically outside the bounds of art-canon norms and academic training. During this decade he developed a powerful reputation in the US, where his work was championed by Clement Greenberg and the Abstract Expressionists; he also forged close relationships with writers and artists such as Henri Michaux, Francis Ponge and Antonin Artaud. In 1962 he developed a semi-figurative, semi-abstract artistic idiom in a large series of works he called Hourloupe. In his later work Dubuffet returned to the gestural techniques of Art Informel.