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Jean Dubuffet correspondence and papers, 1944-1984.

Dubuffet, Jean, 1901-1985.

Available at Special Collections  SPECIAL COLLECTIONS - CONTACT REFERENCE  (970026 )()

  • Title:
    Jean Dubuffet correspondence and papers, 1944-1984.
  • Author/Creator: Dubuffet, Jean, 1901-1985.
  • Creation Date: 1944-1984.
  • Biographical/Historical Note: French painter, litographer, sculptor, architect and author.
  • Physical Desc.: 219 items..
  • Summary: The collection comprises letters and related papers covering various periods of Dubuffet's life, from his late beginnings as a painter in the forties, up to a few months before his death in May, 1985. Most of the letters are addressed to his friends and collaborators, Graham Ackroid, René Drouin, André Martel and Daniel Wallard. Two other groups comprise correspondence with the publishers Alecto (London) and Ditis (Paris). The letters are filed in alphabetical order of the recipients. Four letters to Werner Schmalenbach, the organizer of Dubuffet's exhibition in Hanover (1960), one to R. Augustincic (1959), and one to Les Lettres Françaises (1947) are placed at the end in a miscellanea folder, followed by a small group of four manuscripts.
    The correspondence with the Parisian editor Frédéric Ditis is related to the publication of the album "Les dessins de Jean Dubuffet," with a text by Daniel Cordier, released at the end of 1960. The 20 letters were written by Dubuffet (14), Fréderic Ditis (5) and Maximilien Vox (1) between March 19 and November, 1960. The artist was very concerned with the graphic presentation of the book and did not agree with the "inventions" of the designer Maximilen Vox, which he described as "genre publicité commerciale," defended in a "pseudo-esthetic jargon." He cannot accept anything that would break the unity of the book. Ditis gradually agrees with Dubuffet's requests. The album was very well received by the critics and selected by a jury among "Les cinquante livres de l'année 1960" (press clippings included). The 5 letters to the London publisher Alecto ((May 1967-Jan. 1968) are related to the first edition of the playing cards designed by Dubuffet as "une grammaire et une clef à mes peintures de L'Hourloupe" exhibited at the Guggenheim Museum in October 1966, but released in December 1967. Dubuffet expresses his exasperation for the continued delays and the mistakes discovered in the proofs received too late. The collection includes a transparency of the card box and six regular playing cards.
    The 32 letters to René Drouin are almost a diary of Dubuffet's artistic evolution from May 1955 to December 1956. Drouin (Rudy) is one of the three dealers who signed a collective contract with the artist for the acquisition of his production, which Dubuffet, recently settled at Vence, sends to Paris at least twice a year to be split among Drouin, Jacques Ulmann and Pierre Matisse. Gabrielle Neumann acts as liaison between them and the artist. Dubuffet writes with excitement about his successive experiments in that period: assemblage d'empreintes, collages d'ailes de papillon, tableaux d'assemblage, and landscapes. The dealers are eager to get his new production even before the artist has time to fully develop each new technique. Their arrangement allows him to ask for a raise in his established monthly payment of 250,000 to 350,000 for the construction of a large studio in Vence. A project for a book about "assemblage d'empreintes" and future exhibitions are also discussed, along with his refusal to compete for a prize at the Carnegie Institute, where he had a "humiliante aventure et n'ai pas envie de la renouveler." He concludes: "il est plus sage de laisser Pierre Matisse conduire la propagande aux U.S.A." (May 1955).
    The 21 letters sent to the art critic Daniel Wallard between 1944 and 1947 are pervaded with warm friendship and enthusiastic discussion of ideas. Dubuffet writes about his series of graffitti and announces a new "technique inédite...en encre de Chine" he is experimenting with (May 1944). He outlines a plan for gathering information and publishing together with Wallard and others a collection of "peintures des déments" (Apr. 1944). In 1947 the artist explains his ideas about a new way of conceiving the portrait, which may become "quelque chose de très interessant." The 24 letters to his friend and collaborator André Martel are mostly from 1951 to 1957 (four from 1967-68). Martel takes care of Dubuffet's home, buys supplies, keeps his accounting books, does errands and helps him write the catalogs of his works before passing them on to his dealers. (Two of them from July 1954 to Jan. 1955 are filed with manuscripts). He also takes care of the graphic execution of Dubuffet's book Djingine, published in "tirage de luxe" (150 copies) in 1954. Martel is himself a writer, the inventor of the "paralloidre" language he uses in his poems, "admirables petits textes" which Dubuffet savours "mot après mot" and wants to help him publish. The collection includes accounting sheets and notes of tasks for Martel. There are 40 letters sent by Dubuffet to Graham Ackroyd, a British amateur poet and painter whom he has never met. Most of the letters were written between August 1981 and December 1984. They exchange photographs, ideas, books, drawings and personal news. Dubuffet is delighted with the "historiated envelopes" made by Ackroyd. His last answer, written shortly before his death after receiving a "dramatic portrait" drawn by Ackroyd, contains an elaborate definition of identity. It ends with Dubuffet's wish that his own identity be perceived as "prête à l'entier registre de toutes les mutations."
  • Language: French
  • Subjects: Matisse, Pierre, 1900-1989 Neumann, Gabrielle Ulmann, Jacques Aesthetics, French -- 20th century Art and mental illness Art critics -- France Art dealers -- France Art -- Marketing Artists as authors Artists' writings Painters -- France -- 20th century Painting, French -- 20th century
  • Contributors: Ackroyd, Graham. Ditis, Frédéric. Drouin, René. Martel, André, 1893-1976. Schmalenbach, Werner, 1920-2010. Augustinčić, Antun, 1900-1979. Vox, Maximilien. Wallard, Daniel. Alecto Editions (London, England)
  • ID/Accession Number: 1364-663
  • Access/Rights: Open for use by qualified researchers.
  • OCLC Record Number: 78575673
  • Source: GRI Library Catalog

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