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Featuring newly commissioned essays and photography of rarely exhibited works, this book
highlights the radicalism of Jean Dubuffet, who was one of the most provocative voices of the postwar avant-garde.
In 1940s occupied Paris, Jean Dubuffet began to champion a progressive vision for art; one that rejected classical notions of beauty in favor of a more visceral aesthetic. Taking a pioneering approach to materiality and technique, the artist variously blended paint with sand, glass, tar, coal dust, and string. At the same time, he began to assemble a collection of art brut—work that was made outside the academic tradition of fine art—even visiting psychiatric wards from 1945 to collect work by patients. This book features texts from leading scholars and is accompanied by images that illuminate Dubuffet’s attempts to move beyond the artistic expectations of his time. The works are grouped into six thematic sections that focus on specific series, from his graffiti-inspired “Walls” and his notorious portrait series, “People are Much More Beautiful Than They Think” to the “Corps de dames,” a controversial series of “female” landscapes, and his anthropomorphic sculptures, “Little Statues of Precarious Life.” Exquisitely produced, this celebration of Dubuffet’s work embraces his world view that art is for everyone, not just the elite.
With contributions by Sophie Berrebi, Charlotte Flint, Camille Houzé, Sarah Lombardi, Kent Minturn, Rachel Perry, and Sarah Wilson
Published in association with the Barbican Art Gallery, London
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ELEANOR NAIRNE is Curator at the Barbican Art Gallery in London, where her recent exhibitions include Lee Krasner: Living Colour and Basquiat: Boom for Real. She is a contributor to publications including the London Review of Books and frieze.