Studio Sunday: Painter and Sculptor Jean Dubuffet

A black and white photo of Jean Dubuffet working in his art studio

Located in Vence, France, Jean Dubuffet’s studio was somewhat cozy by the standards of many well known artists, but it seemed to suit his method of working just fine. Nearly one entire wall of the space was taken up by windows, which must have allowed for a lot of gorgeous, natural light for hours, regardless of the season.  In the corner was a long, corner shaped desk at which Dubuffet must have created sketches and plans for his paintings, and perhaps reading material or photos for inspiration. Sitting at this desk he would have been able to look over at a work in progress, bathed in sunlight, and plan how he would get it finished.


Dubuffet, who died in 1985, made his art practice about reaching the human side of art and eschewing the aesthetic rules of high art that were so prominent at the time that he began his career. He is one of the first and most well-known artists to be associated with the idea of so-called “lowbrow” art. Dubuffet often worked in oil paint that he had mixed with crude materials such as sand or straw to give it a heavy, textured feeling. This made painting with any sort of fine detail very difficult and as a result most of the work that Dubuffet is known for is very loose and made with broad, unapologetic strokes.


In the sixties and later on, Dubuffet began working more and more in sculpture, although he remains perhaps best known for his paintings in the style he dubbed “Hourloupe”  - that is, heavy, black, overlapping lines which encircle each other and form spaces which would then be filled in with colours.


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Written by: Dallas Jeffs
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