17th May – 22nd August 2021
An exhibition celebrating French artist Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985), one of the most singular and provocative voices in postwar modern art.
Brutal Beauty champions Dubuffet’s rebellious philosophy. Railing against conventional ideas of beauty, he tried to capture the poetry of everyday life in a gritty, more authentic way. This is the first major survey of his work in the UK for 50 years, showcasing four decades of his career, from early portraits and fantastical statues, to butterfly assemblages and giant colourful canvases. Dubuffet endlessly experimented and was clear on his purpose:
‘Art should always make you laugh a little and fear a little. Anything but bore’.
Alongside his own work, the exhibition features works from his collection of Art Brut (a phrase he coined, which translates as ‘raw art’). Acquired throughout his life, these works, and the artists that created them, profoundly impacted his approach to the making and meaning of art.
Jean Dubuffet: Brutal Beauty is the first major UK exhibition of the work of French artist Jean Dubuffet (1901–1985) in over 50 years. One of the most provocative voices in postwar modern art, Dubuffet rebelled against conventional ideas of beauty, hoping to capture the poetry of everyday life in a gritty, more authentic way. Drawn from international public and private collections, Brutal Beauty brings together more than 150 works: from early portraits, lithographs and fantastical statues to enamel paintings, butterfly assemblages and giant colourful canvases. It opens at Barbican Art Gallery on 17 May 2021.
Spanning four decades in the studio, Brutal Beauty highlights Dubuffet’s endless experimentation with tools and materials, as he blended paint with shards of glass, coal dust, pebbles, slithers of string and gravel. Shown alongside his work are two dedicated rooms from Dubuffet’s collection of Art Brut, acquired throughout his life – shedding light on artists such as Aloïse Corbaz, Madge Gill, Fleury-Joseph Crépin, Gaston Duf, and Laure Pigeon, who profoundly inspired his approach to the making and understanding of art.
The exhibition was sponsored by Sotheby’s with additional support from Waddington Custot and Bauwerk