Jean Dubuffet’s Urgence

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After acquainting myself with Jean Dubuffet, I felt that I could then, and only then, make an informed critique of his work, without merely injecting my pure opinion. My arguments are based on artistic analysis. It’s useful to remember that my viewpoint may be informed, but it’s still also subjective, and I found upon analysis of Dubuffet’s piece, Urgence(89, fig. 3. 19), a critique may raise more questions than it answers. I find this is especially true of contemporary art, because we have abandoned traditional agreements of inspiration.

Jean Dubuffet was a self-taught or untrained artist who was unaffected by artistic standards of the time. He focused on the art drawn by children and the insane; people who were free from corrupting cultural influences. Often, the first thing to ask yourself is “What was the artist trying to express? ” Dubuffet rejected the view that art must be aesthetically pleasing or that it should illustrate visual reality. He was basically trying to shake up the established ideas and disturb the rules and procedures of the domain. Overall I believe his piece achieves his goals.

And while this sounds a little idealistic I do agree with what he believed. However, I must ask “Can a person make advancements in a domain which he or she does not study it rules? ” (Or at least be aware of them? ) I believe Dubuffet falls short in quality of his work; he doesn’t succeed technically. His use of line, while used to define the work, seems to have no definite purpose, it is arbitrary. And his use of form and shape in his figures is oversimplified to the extent to which one cannot identify what they are to mean. The way he also sets up his “boxes of lines” is also unorganized.

Even his use of color is weak, in the context that it does help the piece anymore than it hurts it. The only color that helps the piece out is his little box of yellow in the lower right hand corner. I will give him credit in the fact that he does create a nice balance between harmony and variety. After reviewing the piece I have to agree with most of Dubuffet’s ideals about art. For him to create is sufficient in itself. However there comes a point when you make all art totally arbitrary; a spontaneous psychic flow from brain to paper. In the end I would say that it is simply not enough to be untrained, clumsy or naive.

Just as Dubuffet did, I don’t believe art has to teach us anything. So maybe he has succeeded in his work. However, when we do bring his “non-art” into the art world, we evaluate it using the accepted definitions of art. Yet, in the definitions of art there are no absolutes. In the end I ask myself “What does it say to me? ” Art should say something to me – not teach something – but say something. Unfortunately it says nothing. It does not touch my mind’s eye, or move me (my thoughts) in anyway. However, it did get me to think about it for awhile. So very well then, I contradict myself.

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