Jean Dubuffet

Born in Le Havre in 1901, Jean Dubuffet hesitated for a long time between being a wine merchant and an artist. It was only in 1942 that he concentrated definitively on painting. A great protester against the established order, for the forty years of his artistic career, Jean Dubuffet focused on obeying no pre-established rules except that of reinventing our relationship with the world by freeing it from acquired concepts.

  • Jean Dubuffet in Paris, Lhomond Street, 1943
    © Photo Archives Fondation Dubuffet
  • Jean Dubuffet dans son atelier, rue de Vaugirard, Paris, vers 1954
    Photo attribuée à Luc Fournol – © Archives Fondation Dubuffet

His model: the ordinary man at work, whose productions captivate him much more than the skilful games in which men of culture take pleasure. His interest in works in the margins of the cultural circuit led him to found the collection of Art Brut (Raw Art) now in Lausanne, a constant source of stimulation for his work. His artistic production was marked by multiple experiments grouped in different cycles the longest of which is the Hourloupe (1962-1974), a mental and dematerialized projection of the world.

  • Jean Dubuffet à l’entrée de son atelier de l’Ubac, Vence, 1959
    Photo John Craven – © Archives Fondation Dubuffet
  • Jean Dubuffet dans son atelier, Vence, 1967
    Photo Luc Joubert - © Archives Fondation Dubuffet

A prolific artist, painter, writer, and musician, Dubuffet continually questioned himself, making a clean sweep to start new projects. In addition, did he not write: “a single healthy diet for the creation of art: that of permanent revolution”?

  • Jean Dubuffet dans son atelier, rue Labrouste, Paris, 1970
    Photo Kurt Wyss - © Archives Fondation Dubuffet
  • Jean Dubuffet sur la Closerie Falbala, Périgny-sur-Yerres, 1978
    Photo © Archives Fondation Dubuffet


1901 Born in Le Havre to wine merchant parents.
1918-1919 Attends the Académie Julian in Paris which he leaves after 6 months.
1924 Doubts the values of culture, leaves for Buenos Aires.
1925-1932 Abandons painting. Establishes his own wine trading business at Bercy (Paris).
1933-1936 Starts painting again.
1937 Again abandons painting to regain control over his business which is bankrupt.
1942 Decides to concentrate on painting definitively.
1944 PFirst exhibition, which provokes lively controversy (Galerie René Drouin).
1945 Invents the term “art brut” (Raw art) and initial prospecting in France and Switzerland.
1947-1950 Visits the Algerian Sahara. First exhibition in New York (Pierre Matisse Gallery).
1951-1952 Spends 6 months in New York. Gives his speech Anticultural positions in Chicago.
1955-1959 Lives between Paris and Vence.
1960-1961 Retrospective at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris.
1962 Start of the Hourloupe cycle that lasts 12 years.

Retrospective in New York, Museum of Modern Art.

1964 Publication of the first volume of the catalogue raisonné (38 vol.).
1966 Start of a series of sculptures in expanded polystyrene.
1967 DDonation to the Musée des Arts Décoratifs and publication of the first volumes of Prospectus and tous écrits suivants (collection of all his writings).
1968 Publication of Asphyxiante culture.
1969-1970 First commission for a monumental sculpture (Chase Manhattan Bank, New York). Construction of sculpture studios at Périgny-sur-Yerres.
1973 RRetrospectives in New York and Paris and performances of his show Coucou Bazar. Construction of the Closerie Falbala finishes. Creation of the Fondation Dubuffet.
1974 End of the Hourloupe series. Building of the Summer Salon begins for the Régie Renault which was the subject of a court case that he won after 8 years.
1976 Transfer of the Collection of Art Brut to Lausanne.
1984 Represents France at the Venice Biennale. Stops painting.
1985 Writes his Biography “au pas de course”.

Jean Dubuffet dies on 12 May in Paris.