For the last few years, I’ve found the work and thought of Dubuffet to be particularly inspiring and enlightening. Dubuffet’s work goes to the very heart of what it is to engage in image making. When I was younger I was entirely skeptical of his work because I thought he was feigning naivete. It took me a long time to see the depth and profundity of his work.
One of the most interesting arrangements of paintings I’ve ever seen was at the National Gallery in Washington, DC where there were works by Max Beckmann, Arshile Gorky, and Jean Dubuffet all placed in one room. There was one extraordinary dialogue going on between three of the greatest painters of the 20th century.
I think Dubuffet might be the only artist whose work I didn’t like at all for years, never even looking at it, and then in later age have him become one of the artists whose work I look at with greatest fascination. There is something about his work that I find inexplicable. It could have something to do with what he said in answer to the question: Do you trust reason?
No, I dislike reason. Far from being filled with wonder at human reason, I find it one of the poorest and dullest things there is. I am not at all a humanist, oh no, as little as possible. Man does not look to me like the pinnacle of creation, certainly not! Man does not amaze me in the least in this world where I am amazed by so many things! Trees, for example, trees amaze me and fill me with wonder. Man does not at all. Basalt, ah yes! Basalt stupefies me. I fall on my knees before basalt! It seems to me that Man’s only hope is to shut up his idiot reason, which makes him the lead arse of the world This is what give me my great taste for frenzy. In delirium I see salvation. I like madness. I am very taken by madness. Wherever I find madness I run quickly to see it. It interests me. In it I see our only chance. I take “madness cures,” and I am extremely well afterwards. I recommend them. Art only interests me insofar as it is an exercise in this direction. Reasoned art makes me laugh. It is nothing in my opinion.
Rational art. Now there’s an oxymoron. Up on the my next blogpost will be a rational painter, just for comparison with the non-rational painters that I’ve been highlighting.