Influenced by Hans Prinzhorn's book Artistry of the Mentally Ill, Dubuffet coined the term Art Brut (outsider art) for art produced by non-professionals working outside aesthetic norms, such as art by mental patients, prisoners, and children. He amassed his own collection of such art, including artists such as Aloïse Corbaz and Adolf Wölfli. The collection is now housed at the Musée de l'Art Brut in Lausanne, Switzerland. Dubuffet sought to create an art as free from intellectual concerns as Art Brut, and his work often appears primitive and child-like.
Many of Dubuffet's works are painted in oil paint using an impasto thickened by materials such as sand, tar and straw, giving the work an unusually textured surface. From 1962 he produced a series of works in which he limited himself to the colours red, white, black, and blue. Towards the end of the 1960s he turned increasingly to sculpture, producing works in polystyrene which he then painted with vinyl paint.
In late 1960-1961, Dubuffet began experimenting with music and sound and made several recordings with the Danish painter Asger Jorn.
In 1978 Dubuffet collaborated with American composer and musician Jasun Martz to create the record album artwork for Martz’s avant-garde symphony entitled The Pillory. The much written about drawing has been reproduced internationally in three different editions on tens-of-thousands of record albums and compact discs. A detail of the drawing is also featured on Martz’s second symphony (2005), The Pillory/The Battle, performed by The Intercontinental Philharmonic Orchestra and Royal Choir.
Scratched and trowelled in their mudlike pigment, their outlines scrawled in a sophisticated parody of the hasty gential urgency of street graffiti, Dubuffet's cruel portraits of French intellectuals and writers in the 1940s go beyond caricature; they are pathetic monsters.
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