Dubuffet as Architect Daniel Abadie

Publication date:
14 Nov 2011
Editions Hazan, Paris
192 pages: x 235mm
160 color illus.


Jean Dubuffet (1901-85) was one of the major painters of the twentieth century, but his architectural achievements have commanded less attention until now. This oversight is all the more surprising in the light of his being awarded The American Institute of Architects' medal in 1982.

Captivated by the monumental size and three-dimensional possibilities of an architectural approach, Dubuffet collaborated with Fernand Leger's ceramicist, Roland Brice, in transposing the Hourloupe series of paintings on to bas-relief. Further experiments with new materials, such as plastic resins, enabled him to work on a huge scale with multi-layered combinations of separate elements. Volume and space were his new medium, and public commissions followed: the 1969 "Group of Four Trees" for the Chase Manhattan Bank, and "the Jardin d'email" (Enamel Garden) at the Kroller-Muller Museum in Otterlo. From simple objects in space, Dubuffet swiftly progressed to monumental sculptures as a dialogue with passers-by.

Like the great works of modern sculptors such as Henry Moore or Archipenko, Dubuffet appropriated vacant space as one of sculpture's major elements. In the early 1970s he undertook the construction of the Villa and Closerie Falbala, a dream-experience that draws the visitor in from L'Antichambre, passing through the Portes with their guardian figures, to the heart of the arrangement, the Cabinet logologique. Daniel Abadie's "Dubuffet as Architect" serves as the catalogue to a major European exhibition about this aspect of the artist's output, restoring his projects - both those consummated in reality and those planned or abandoned - to the full attention they deserve.

The exhibition opens at the Henie Onstad Foundation, Hovikodden-Oslo, Norway, between 10 March-29 May 2011, moves on to the Skissernas Museum, Lund, Sweden, from June-September 2011, and culminates at the Musee d'Ixelles, Brussels, from 20 October-22 January 2012.

Daniel Abadie's former positions have included curator at the French Musée National d'Art Moderne and director of the Musée du Jeu de Paume in Paris.

"Fascinating"—RIBA Journal