Jean Dubuffet was born on July 31, 1901, in Le Havre, France. After attending art classes as a child, he moved to Paris in 1918 to study at the Académie Julian. He left the school after only six months; however, during this time he became fascinated with Hans Prinzhorn’s book on psychopathic art, and he also met Raoul Dufy, Max Jacobs, Ferdinand Léger, and Suzanne Valadon. Dubuffet gave up painting around 1924 for about 10 years, and began working as an industrial draftsman and then in the family wine business. In 1942, he dedicated himself to becoming an artist, and his first solo exhibition was held at the Galerie René Drouin, Paris in 1944. Dubuffet associated with Surrealist and Dada circles in Paris, and he became an avid supporter and collector of Art Brut, spontaneous, direct works by untrained artists, such as children or the mentally ill. He went so far as to write a manifesto proclaiming the style’s superiority over official art and to found the organization Compagnie d l’Art Brut that held its first exhibition in 1949. The first museum retrospective of Dubuffet’s work was held in 1957 at the Schlo Morsbroich, in Leverkusen, West Germany; numerous exhibitions of his work followed throughout the next years. He continued to exhibit until his death on May 12, 1985, in Paris.
Jean Dubuffet is featured in Edition: The Best of the Met