Jean Dubuffet

/Works and biography

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Fleshy Face with Chestnut Hair
(Châtaine aux hautes chairs), August 1951
Oil-based mixed-media on Masonite, 64.9 x 54 cm
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice 76.2553 PG 121
© Jean Dubuffet, by SIAE 2008


ON VIEW


Jean Dubuffet was attracted to the surfaces of dilapidated walls, pitted roads, and the natural crusts of earth and rock, and during the 1940s and 1950s he sought to create an equivalent texture in his art. He experimented with a variety of materials to produce thick, ruggedly tactile surfaces that constitute deliberately awkward, vulgar, and abbreviated imagery, often of grotesque faces or female nudes. Dubuffet made the present work with an oil-based “mortar,” applying it with a palette knife, allowing areas to dry partially, then scraping, gouging, raking, slicing, or wiping them before applying more medium. The resulting surface is so thick that incisions providing the contours and delineating features seem to model form in relief. Dubuffet’s aggressively anticultural, antiaesthetic attitude and spontaneity of expression provided an example for members of the COBRA group in Europe, and New York artists such as Claes Oldenburg and Jim Dine.

credits: Hangar Design Group