Jean Dubuffet (French, 1901-1985)
January 1947. Oil emulsion in water on canvas, 57 5/8 x 44 7/8” (146.3 x 114 cm). Mrs. Simon Guggenheim Fund. © 2010 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Paralyzed during World War I, the poet Joë Bousquet was bedridden for decades until his death in 1950. Dubuffet depicts him in bed with two of his books, a newspaper, two letters addressed to him, and a package of Gauloises cigarettes. The abstract rendering of Bousquet’s face and surroundings deliberately rejects physical exactness. Dubuffet championed graffiti and art brut—his term for the art of children, the insane, and “primitives”—as necessary alternatives to European modernism.