Dubuffet and Albers

Jean Dubuffet (1901-85) was a french painter and sculptor whose main focus was reaching back to the roots of humanity and pushing away the Occidental culture. He used materials that would typically be seen as disgusting, and many critics wrote him off initially because of this. His statements, however, bring up very important questions for our society to contemplate;

“In the name of what-except perhaps the coefficient of rarity-does a man adorn himself with necklaces of shells and not spider’s webs, with fox fur and not fox innards? In the name of what, I want to know? Don’t dirt, trash, and filth, which are man’s companion during his whole lifetime, deserve to be dearer to him, and isn’t it serving him well to remind him of their beauty?”

Painter Josef Albers (1888-1976) has a much different and conceptual take on his artwork. His pieces, which consist of like-colored rectagular shapes inside one-another, explore the way human vision connects and sees flat dimensions.

“Such color deceptions prove that we see colors almost never unrelated to each other and therefore unchanged; that color in changing continually: with changing light, with changing shape and placement, and with quantity which denotes either amount (a real extension) or number (recurrence). And just as influential are changes in perception depending on changes of mood, and consequently receptiveness.”

Some questions to think about after the reading and class period concerning Jean Dubuffet and Josef Albers:

  • Is Alber’s Origin of Art ’64 an accurate idea of what art really is in its various contexts?
  • Do the colors in Alber’s painting achieve what the artist is trying to do? i.e. demonstrate to the viewer that color is completely subjective? How does he play with space?
  • Are Dubuffet’s 7 ideas on Anticultural Positions true to what the culture is like in your opinion? When reading these position does it change or reinforce you previous idea of Occidental culture in Post War France (or present day)?
  • How do Dubuffet’s and Alber’s works and conceptual ideas compare to one another?



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