Words of Advice For Artists From Jean Dubuffet, Advocate for Art Brut, on His Birthday
Believe in magic.
French artist Jean Dubuffet introduced the world to Art Brut, a predecessor of contemporary “outsider” art. He debuted Coucou Bazar, an “animated painting,” at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in 1973. The work consisted of moving paintings, brought to life by actors in an hour-long performance.
As a champion of artists he regarded as part of Art Brut, Dubuffet collected works from those on the fringes of society, such as the mentally ill, imprisoned, and disenfranchised. He saw immense value in work created outside of formal art institutions, which he found to be constrictive and stultifying.
The maverick artist was born on July 31, 1901, and passed away on May 12, 1985.
1. Get drunk on art.
“There is no art without intoxication. But I mean a mad intoxication! Let reason teeter! Delirium!”
2. Don’t follow trends.
“I take hardly any interest in the work of other painters. I rarely visit art galleries. It is very possible that art based on the constant use of references to earlier works could be very legitimate… [but] in my own work I use nothing of the kind.”
3. Be unconventional.
“The creators of Art Brut draw their themes, ideas and means of expression from their “own resources,” from their “impulses and humors, without referring to the usual means, without any consideration for the accepted conventions.”
4. Believe in magic.
Dubuffet claimed that Art Brut possessed “a strength that derived from desire, from magic…Isolated from society [the brut-ists] create their own feasts.”
5. Don’t think you’re the one in control.
“Art does not just lie in the bed we made for it; it would sooner run away than say its own name. What it likes is to be incognito. Its best moments is when it forgets what its own name is.”
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