Thévoz (Michel) : Dubuffet ou la révolution permanente

Dubuffet’s attitude at the beginning of his "career" : an anti-authoritarian and anarchist mood, a certain populism, the impulse to violate language, an ambiguous distrust of intellectuals, an allergy to Parisianism, the investment of culture as an empty fortress, and finally the choice of painting as the most ideologically subversive weapon.

2022 / 11,5x16cm / 288 p. / ISBN : 978-2-85035-079-5

Date de publication : 25 mai 2022

Perhaps it is this providential adequacy of an individual idiosyncrasy and a socio-cultural situation, making one the magnifying paradigm of the other, that would explain the integral enrolment of the most singular traits of the Dubuffet individual in a work recurrently invested by the collective sensibility as the outcrop of a sort of historical unconscious. It is as if Dubuffet had been able to metabolise the totality of the constituent traits of his person for the greater vitality of his work, which leaves no psychological or biographical residue. Since 1942, the date of his definitive entry into painting, Jean Dubuffet has been literally absorbed, or saturated body and soul, by his own production.
In all his work, Dubuffet remains paradoxical : he is no more an artist in the conventional sense of the term than he is an author of "Art Brut". Nor is he in an intermediate position. Rather, he should be defined in terms of strategy as an enemy from within, using the cultural instruments and institutions - which circumstances wanted him to have - against culture itself.
His pictorial conceptions and the new scientific spirit : Dubuffet probably went much further in this direction than any artist of his generation. It even appears that the rejection of the artistic heritage was reinforced by the opposite magnetisation of intuitions inspired in particular by the new physical and biological theories.
Having read the parts of the present book written before his death that show such convergences, Dubuffet strongly approved of them and encouraged us to continue our analysis in this direction. It is true that in his writings he made only passing reference to the new scientific imagination. But we know that he was a keen reader of works accessible to laymen such as those by Jacques Monod, François Jacob, Edgar Morin and Henri Atlan. Moreover, there is no need for erudition in this field for a man as hypersensitive as he was to the waves of time. Dubuffet was aware that artistic creation had to respond to the challenge of submicroscopic events (radioactivity, pollution, genetic manipulation, etc.) that now challenge us in our daily lives, whereas our sensory representation is only adapted to macroscopic reality.

Michel Thévoz was born in Lausanne in 1936. A philosopher and art historian close to Dubuffet, he was curator of the Collection de l’Art Brut from its foundation in 1976 until 2001. He has published some thirty works, notably on the art of madmen, suicide, spiritism, infamy, the reflection of mirrors, the pathology of the frame and the "Vaudois syndrome".

Foreign Rights

L’Atelier contemporain attempts to publish books of art and literature and books which associate artists and writers, with the concern to revive a dialogue between the literary and plastic arts.
The ambition is to explore the « paths of the création » through five collections gathered within the company : essays on art, written by artists, conversations and correspondences, monographs, and literature.