The Syllabus

Jean Dubuffet: A Retrospective

Jean Dubuffet: A Retrospective

Contributions by Thomas M. Messer and Margit Rowell
Published in 1973
306 pages, fully illustrated
Softcover, 8.50 x 11 inches

Organized by curator Margit Rowell, this catalogue presents 296 works from this major, traveling retrospective, and includes an introduction by Thomas M. Messer and an essay by Rowell on Jean Dubuffet, which describes the artist as "a thorn in twentieth-century culture's side." A ceremonial speech in both French and English by Dubuffet is also featured, alongside an annotated list of the fascicules of his catalogue raisonné. This catalogue is an invaluable resource and comprehensive guide to the life and work of Dubuffet through 1972.   


The bright or brutal colors of Dubuffet's earlier work simultaneously enhanced and denied the reality of the image. The result was an evocative—both real and elusive—imagery such as the subjective minds secretes. The function of color in the Hourloupe cycle is quite different. Since from the outset, the Hourloupe imagery is more radically removed from the perceptual world, color serves to project and determine abstract conceits in visual terms, according to a closed, non-associational, self-referring system. In other words, the injection of primary color in flat planes or striations gives immediate and literal presence and substance to what are essentially pure "mental derivatives."  

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