In 1960, François Mathey who was at the head of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs organized the first French retrospective of Jean Dubuffet. The result of a friendship between the artist and the director, a massive donation was made in 1967 by the artist who gave up some of his personal collection to donate it to the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. The gift was formally recorded in 1968.
This donation is comprised of 21 paintings and 5 sculptures and a group of 132 drawings in a variety of techniques, combining graphite, india ink, ballpoint pen, vinyl painting, even butterfly wings and other organic materials.
The selection made by Jean Dubuffet, with François Mathey is composed of “especially demonstrative subjects”, offering a panorama of his various works produced from 1942 to 1967. It includes portraits and figures, drawings evoking themes from the countryside, the desert, the city with a rare group of sheets from the “Paris-Circus” period and from the “Hourloupe” series. In February 1969 Dubuffet repeated his generous gesture with a donation of 560 lithographs and lithograph models by assemble. This collection completed in this way communicates the visual artist’s fascination for the art of the fleeting and the trace; the lithographs are created after imprints of natural formations (leaves from trees, plants, stony soil, skin…). Some of these, published in albums, are known by the evocative title: “The Phenomena”.
This exceptional donation by the artist to a museum, which was not destined to receive this type of works, emphasizes the protean nature of a creator who was simultaneously painter, sculptor, writer and director.