‘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)
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.
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.
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.
Dubuffet once declared ‘For me, insanity is super sanity. The normal is psychotic. Normal means lack of imagination, lack of creativity.’
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.
Dubuffet expressed that ‘Art should always make us laugh a little and frighten us a little, but never bore us.’
Put simply the guy is mind-blowing and his effect upon me has been profound.
So, who do you love?