Jean Dubuffet: An Urban Imagination

  • Jun 9, 2018
  • All images: © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2018 Documentary footage from ‘The Artist’s Studio: Jean Dubuffet’. Courtesy of Michael Blackwood Productions

‘The city for Dubuffet is a kind of arena – it's like a canvas, it's like a background – in which he sees things happening and he can paint.’

Curator Dr Sophie Berrebi introduces ‘Jean Dubuffet and the City’, the first presentation that focuses on exploring the role of the city in Dubuffet’s four decades of artistic accomplishments, highlighting the artist’s shifting depiction of urban characters, and the visual and experiential dynamism of Paris that influenced his work. Featuring over 50 important paintings, works on paper, architectural and sculpture models from the 1940s to 1980s, the exhibition uncovers Dubuffet’s shifts in vision, from representation to imagination and from evocation to construction of an urban imagination, and allows for a renewed understanding of the artist’s oeuvre and the significance of the city. Jean Dubuffet (1901 – 1985) was a French painter and sculptor and is considered a master of European Modernism. Dubuffet’s work is marked by a reaction against prevailing notions of high culture, beauty, and good taste. Over four decades he was both prolific and experimental, expressing his creativity in many forms including writing and music. He used a diverse range of art-making techniques, including painting, drawing, printmaking, large-scale outdoor sculpture, and works bridging painting, sculpture, dance, and theatre featuring live performers. Dr Sophie Berrebi, Associate Professor (UD1) at the University of Amsterdam, is an art historian specialising in the work of Dubuffet and in contemporary art. She most recently curated the 2017 exhibition ‘Jean Dubuffet: The Deep End’ at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands. An extensive scholarly publication, entitled ‘Dubuffet and the City. People, Place and Urban Space,’ researched and written by Dr. Berrebi and edited by Hauser & Wirth Publishers accompanies the exhibition.