“Art doesn’t go to sleep in the bed made for it; it would sooner run away than say its own name: what it likes is to be incognito. Its best moments are when it forgets what its name is.”
-Jean Dubuffet, “L’art brut préféré aux arts culturels,” in L’homme du commun à l’ouvrage, Gallimard, Paris: 1973, p. 90-91.
Ricco/Maresca Gallery and Jennifer Pinto Safian are pleased to announce Dubuffet and the Art Brut. The exhibition presents the art of Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985) alongside works championed by Dubuffet and collected under the rubric of Art Brut. Between 1945 and his death in 1985, Dubuffet defined Art Brut, aggressively collecting, exhibiting and publishing the genre. His collection, now housed at the Collection de L'Art Brut, Lausanne, Switzerland, established the canon of recognized Art Brut artists. These artists, in turn, dramatically impacted Dubuffet’s personal artistic vision. The exhibition includes works by celebrated figures of the Art Brut circle - Alöise Corbaz, Janko Domsic, Madge Gill, Miguel Hernandez, Emile Josome Hodinos, Augustin Lesage, Scottie Wilson, Adolf Wölfli and Carlo Zinelli, along with works by abstract expressionist Alfonso Ossorio. Juxtaposed, we see Jean Dubuffet’s circle of influence.
In 1945, Dubuffet began to travel extensively throughout Europe to discover an art that “addresses itself to our spirit, not to our eyes,” an art that is pure, spontaneous, direct, and not influenced by fine art and mainstream culture. By 1948, Dubuffet and several leading Dadaists and Surrealists, including André Breton and Michel Tapié, had founded the Compagnie de l'Art Brut. Under Dubuffet's leadership, this organization defined and strictly enforced the criteria applied to the collecting of Art Brut. The most significant determinant was that the art was created by individuals who were not part of the conventional art scene. “Here, Art possesses a strength coming from desire, from magic…Isolated from society, they create their own feasts.”
Originally comprised of approximately 1200 works of art created by individuals secluded in mental hospitals or otherwise socially isolated, the Compagnie de l'Art Brut's collection was the first one of its kind to exist beyond the confines of a mental institution. With the 1949 exhibition of the collection at the Galerie René Drouin in Paris, Jean Dubuffet formally introduced Art Brut to an indifferent public. Due to philosophical differences among its founders, the Compagnie eventually dissolved in 1951. Forced to find a new home for the collection, Dubuffet shipped all the works to his friend and colleague, the abstract expressionist painter Alfonso Ossorio. Ossorio housed the collection at his Wainscott, New York estate for the next decade; in 1962, it was donated to the municipality of Lausanne, Switzerland and permanently installed in the Chateau de Beaulieu under the name Collection de L’Art Brut.
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