Who do you love?


Jean Dubuffet, Self Portrait, 1966, marker pen on paper


‘For a very long time I was too humble […] and lacking in confidence and composure; and I suffered cruelly because of this, appearing in my own eyes to be nothing more than the most abject dog turd. It was only at a late stage – when in the end I had resigned myself to living like a dog turd without shame or regret and making the best of the situation – that it dawned on me that everyone else was also a dog turd.’

– Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985)


Portrait of Jean Dubuffet by Marc Trivier


I love Jean Dubuffet.

While studying at university, one afternoon in the library when flipping through books in the art section, I turned a page and saw a reproduction of Man Eating a Small Stone by Dubuffet.

It turned my world upside down.


Jean Dubuffet, Man Eating a Small Stone, 1944, lithograph


Early in his life, Dubuffet was influenced by the German psychiatrist and art historian Hans Prinzhorn, and his book Bildnerei der Geisteskranken (Artistry of the Mentally Ill) published in 1922.


Hans Prinzhorn 1886-1933


Dubuffet collected an enormous amount of work by psychiatric patients, prisoners and children. He invented the term Art Brut (raw art) for the work produced by these non-professional artists. The collection is now housed at the Musée de l’Art Brut in Lausanne, Switzerland.


Heinrich Anton Müller, Man with flies and snake, c 1920s, crayon drawing


Adolf Wölfli, Saint Adolf wearing glasses, 1924, pencil on paper


Dubuffet once declared ‘For me, insanity is super sanity. The normal is psychotic. Normal means lack of imagination, lack of creativity.’


Jean Dubuffet, Pisser at the wall, 1945, lithograph


Jean Dubuffet, Bertelé Mondain, 1946, oil on canvas


Jean Dubuffet, La belle encornée, 1954, oil on canvas


Jean Dubuffet, Le deviseur II, 1969-1970, epoxy resin and polyurethane paints


Jean Dubuffet, Cabinet Logologique, 1967-1969, epoxy resin and concrete with polyurethane paints


Jean Dubuffet, Closerie Falbala, 1971-1973, epoxy resin and concrete with polyurethane paints


Jean Dubuffet, Portrait d'homme, 1974, mixed media on paper


Jean Dubuffet, Mêle moments, 1976, mixed media on canvas


Jean Dubuffet, Jardin d'émail, 1974, epoxy resin and concrete with polyurethane paints


One of my most ecstatic art moments was visiting the Kröller-Müller Museum when in the Netherlands and encountering Dubuffet’s Jardin d’émail. Indescribable.


Rona Green atop Jardin d'émail


Dubuffet expressed that ‘Art should always make us laugh a little and frighten us a little, but never bore us.’


Jean Dubuffet driving some hot wheels


Put simply the guy is mind-blowing and his effect upon me has been profound.


Rona Green, party, 1995, lithograph


So, who do you love?


12 Comments on “Who do you love?”

  1. Hi Rona

    Thanks, this is a thought provoking and insightful post



  2. Yeah, I love your passion for Dubuffet. He is de buffet of delights!

  3. Robert Dente says:

    Well as someone always admiring of the originality and power of Dubuffet’s unique vision, I thought I’d share these lines that seem somehow appropriate:

    “One can speak of the good mental health of Van Gogh who, in his whole adult life, cooked only one of his hands and did nothing else except once to cut off his left ear, in a world in which every day one eats vagina cooked in green sauce or penis of newborn child whipped and beaten to a pulp, just as it is when plucked from the sex of its mother.
    And this is not an image, but a fact abundantly and daily repeated and cultivated throughout the world. And this, however delirious this statement may seem, is how modern life maintains its old atmosphere of debauchery, anarchy, disorder, delirium, derangement, chronic insanity, bourgeois inertia, psychic anomaly (for it is not man but the world which has become abnormal), deliberate dishonesty and notorious hypocrisy, stingy contempt for everything that shows breeding. insistence on an entire order based on the fulfillment of a primitive injustice, in short, of organized crime. Things are going badly because sick consciousness has a vested interest right now in not recovering from its sickness. This is why a tainted society has invented psychiatry to defend itself against the investigations of certain superior intellects whose faculties of divination would be troublesome. …In comparison with the lucidity of Van Gogh, which is a dynamic force, psychiatry is no better than a den of apes who are themselves obsessed and persecuted and who possess nothing to mitigate the most appalling states of anguish and human suffocation but a ridiculous terminology, worthy product of their damaged brains.”

    An excerpt from “Van Gogh: The Man Suicided by Society,” originally published in Paris, in 1947. -Antonin Artaud

  4. reniegarlick says:

    i love how you can tell us so much about Dubuffet with so few words — you are very wise to let his images speak for him. i’ve copied the quote you gave at the beginning. it’s a keeper. great post —

  5. Mikhael East says:

    This is a cool post – I had never heard of him before. I can see why and how he has influenced you so much.

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