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Jean Dubuffet

26 October 2005 - 08 January 2006

An impassioned exploration

Imprinting fascinated Jean Dubuffet for over forty years and is indissolubly a part of his creative oeuvre. Throughout his life, in certain intense and active phases, he would not cease to explore the range of different techniques that could be utalised in printing and most of all those of lithography, interpreting and inventing new methods, as to better meet his needs. According to a set of associations and logic distinctive to this artist, each discovery led him directly to a rich field of developments into which he was to rush with an unvarying sense of wonder, ignoring the limits of these new fields of investigation.

A permanent revolution

Jean Dubuffet was to waver for a long time between the family wine-selling business and an artistic career. It was only in 1942, at the aged of 41, that he devoted himself finally to painting.

Jean Dubuffet - Short Chronology

1901 Jean Dubuffet was born on July 31st in Le Havre, the son of a wine merchant.

1908-1917 School in Le Havre. Attends night classes at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.

1918-1919 Moves to Paris to study at Académie Julian, which he leaves six months later to work alone.

1924 Breaking off of all artistic endeavors, he residence in Buenos Aires for six months.

1925-1932 Enters the family wine business and stops painting for eight years. First marriage.

Death of his father and birth of his daughter Isalmina.

1933-1935 Dubuffet's artistic interest is rekindled. Leases his business. Separates from his wife. Meets Emilie Carlu (Lili) with whom he will stay until the end of his life. Models masks and puppets.

1937 Abandons art once again and returns to save his wine business from bankruptcy.

1942 At 41 years old, Dubuffet decides to devote himself exclusively to art.

1943 Meets Jean Paulhan who introduces him to the Parisian intelligentsia, painters and writers.

1944 First exhibition at the Galerie René Drouin, which led to, heated debates.

1945 Starts collecting Art Brut in France and Switzerland.

1946 Publishes ""Prospectus aux amateurs de tout genre"".

1947-1950 Sells his wine business. Three successive journeys in the Algerian Sahara. Foundation of the ""Compagnie de l'Art brut"". First American exhibition at the Pierre Matisse Gallery, in New York.

1951 First journey to New York (six months). Programmatic speech on ""Anticultural positions"" at the Art Institute of Chicago.

1952-1954 Meets Louis-Ferdinand Celine. First retrospective at Cercle Volney, Paris.

1955-1959 Moves to Vence (Alpes-Maritimes). Construction of a house and studios. Within the following years, he alternately lives in Paris and Vence. Begins the series of lithographs Les Phénomènes (completed in 1962).

1960-1961 An office, which documents his work, is installed in Paris. Musical experiments together with Asger Jorn. Major retrospective at the Musée des Arts décoratifs, Paris.

1962 Important change in Dubuffet's work: in July, he begins the Hourloupe series, on which he works until 1974. Return to Paris of the Art Brut collection, which had been stationed in New York since 1951. Major retrospective at Museum of Modern Art, New York.

1964 Exhibition of ""L'Hourloupe"" paintings at Palazzo Grassi, Venice. Publishes the first volume of his ""Catalogue intégral des travaux"" (38 volumes).

1966 The artistic language of L'Hourloupe is being expanded to the third dimension: sculpts polystyrene.

1967 Important donation of his own works to the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris. Publication of a collection of Dubuffet's writings, 2 vol.: ""Prospectus et tous écrits suivants"" (2 additional vol. to be published in 1995).

1968 Publishes ""Asphyxiante culture"".

1969 -1972 First commission for a monumental sculpture (Chase Manhattan Bank, New York). Construction of large studios in Périgny-sur-Yerres near Paris. Breaks ground there for the project Closerie Falbala (constructed 1971-1973, completed in 1976).

1971-1972 Beginning of series of praticables and costumes for Coucou Bazar: installs a studio at the Cartoucherie de Vincennes, near Paris. Inauguration of the monumental sculpture Groupe de quatre arbres in New York.

1973 Retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum New York and world premiere of the performance Coucou Bazar, which will be shown in Paris at the Grand Palais in fall.

1974 End of the Hourloupe series. Beginning of the construction of Salon d'été commissioned by Renault. Creation of the Dubuffet Foundation.

1975-1977 The Salon d'été construction is stopped. Action at law. Donation of the Art Brut Collection to the city of Lausanne.

1978-1982 A third version of Coucou Bazar is performed, organized by Fiat in Turin. On the occasion of his 80th birthday, large exhibitions at both the Guggenheim Museum in New York and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris take place.

1983 Wins case against Renault but declines to force the company to reconstruct the Salon d'été. Public commission by the French State for the 24m high Tour aux figures.

1984 Exhibition of the Mires series at the French Pavilion of the Venice Biennale. Stops painting.

1985 Writes his ""Biographie au pas de course"" within three months.

Jean Dubuffet dies in Paris on May 12th.

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