JEAN DUBUFFET Anticultural Positions

Acquavella Galleries | April 15 – June 10, 2016


Jean Dubuffet, Façades d’immeubles [Apartment Houses, Paris], July 1946. Oil with sand and charcoal on canvas. 44 7/8 × 57 3/8 inches. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Bequest of Florene M. Schoenborn, 1995 (1996.403.15). Image copyright © The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image source: Art Resource, NY / Art © 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. 

 

Primordial tenants stand proudly in front of
Their Apartment Houses [in] Paris after the war—
Some on terraces or in frames of doors.
Others transpose their Rustic Dialogue onto
A gesture of Farewell from the Window.
Troweling earth’s substances onto one surface,
Scraped away, the incisive lines conform to imagery
That is urgently born, escapes from the artist’s inner mind.

Like a cave painter drawn to memorialize
A hunting ritual at day’s transition to night, the light here is generated
From within. A brownish grey palette welcomes
Storms of neighboring colors: green, red, blue,
Fleshy earth, soft and amorphous lumps,
Hide glue, zinc oxide, hues all returned to
The random naturalization of pebbles and sand.
The colors seem to gather together the Will to Power.
(A dictator’s image, nude with eyes crazed and a feeble appearance).

A Jump Rope Dancer, statically frozen in the center below,
Her delineated black outlines were there
To etch the image indefinitely onto our memory.
Glimpses behind a building between intervals of
Four Women Lifting their Arms do not guarantee an
Immediate entrance. Be patient!

Meanwhile, a profile of a man on a brooch
(On a woman’s stole) and
A wristwatch, handbag, and signature scratched beneath her skirt.

Black Beauty was painted in
November 1945, liberated from the fear and despair!
The gravity and grace of Joë Bousquet in Bed since 1918.

Blotting, pressing, dripping, sliding, broodingly cheerful.
How delightful to meet a person with a Combat Beard or
A woman with Cherry Cheeks, the distant cousin of
A woman with a Growth on the Cheek.
Miró, Giacometti, de Kooning may have met them too.

Someone nearby remarks of her encounter with
Lively Garden and The Cross-Eyed Man that she was astonished
By how brutally reaffirming
The artist’s willingness is to use a delicate touch
As part of his arsenal (when needed).
The Beach at Cassis, inversely, is an emphatic masterpiece.
Our Old Land, The Gallant Pursuit,
Texturologie I, and Gray Pavement declare a brand
New world of textural constellation that has always been there.
The fertility of earth
Constantly feeds the mystery of consciousness.

 

Jean Dubuffet, Texturologie I [Texturology I], September 24, 1957. Oil on canvas. 32 × 39 1/2 inches. Private Collection. Photo by Kent Pell / Art © 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

 

Jean Dubuffet, L’étonné [The Astonished Man], October 1959. Silver foil and driftwood. 14 1/8 inches high. Private Collection. Photo by Kent Pell / Art © 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

 

 

Contributor

Phong Bui

PHONG BUI is the Publisher and Artistic Director of the Brooklyn Rail.

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