London, United Kingdom

Brutal Beauty: The Art and Life of Jean Dubuffet

online course
when 28 April 2021 - 2 June 2021
language English
duration 5 weeks
fee GBP 250

This six-week online evening course at Guildhall School of Music & Drama, developed in collaboration with Barbican, will look at the life and work of one of the most acclaimed postwar painters and why he came to rebel against conventional ideas of beauty, in favour of capturing the poetry of everyday life in a more gritty, authentic way.

Jean Dubuffet (1901–1985) was one of the most provocative artists in postwar modernism — yet today he is barely known in the UK, where he has not had a major public exhibition in over 50 years. This course will cover topics, which include the historical context of the occupation of Paris and how key artistic figures sought to develop a ‘Brutal Aesthetics’ in response to the trauma of the war; how Dubuffet’s material experiments sit in dialogue with the philosophical notion of the ‘formless’ and the artistic movement of ‘Art Informel’; Dubuffet’s relationship to ‘Art Brut’ and how his rejection of Western culture influenced artists at the time and since.

This course accompanies the exhibition ‘Jean Dubuffet: Brutal Beauty’ taking place at Barbican Art Gallery.

Ages 18+
Wednesday evenings on 28 April, 5, 12, 19, 26 May and 2 June 2021

Course leader

Camille Houzé is a curator and art historian who has been leading the research for Jean Dubuffet: Brutal Beauty at Barbican Art Gallery. He was previously Associate Curator, Kunstraum, and has co-directed the Nicoletti Contemporary gallery since 2018.

Target group

- Anyone aged 18 and over with a passion for art and who wants to find out more about the French artist Jean Dubuffet, as well as learning about artistic notions and philosophical concepts that shaped the postwar period and are still effective today.
- No previous knowledge of art history is required.

Course aim

The course will cover a period from 1942 to 1985 and will relate the work of Jean Dubuffet to important artistic movements of the period, including (but not limited to) American Abstract Expressionism, CoBrA, Art Informel, Art Brut and Street Art.

The course will be organised around the following themes stemming from the close study of Jean Dubuffet’s work:

- From Prehistory to History (1901–1942)
- Matter and Memory (1942–45)
- Art Brut (1945–48)
- Rehabilitation of the Mud (1946–50)
- Art Informel or ‘formless’ art? (1950–59)
- Melting City, Parallel worlds (1961–1975)
- Naming the unnameable (1975–85)

You can expect:

- An overview of Jean Dubuffet’s career
- An introduction to major postwar artistic movements
- To revisit historical events and their contexts: Paris 1940s, New York 1950s and 1960s, the postwar boom in France
- An understanding of the relationship between visual arts and works of literature and philosophy (how they continuously influence one another)
- Comparative studies of paintings (how and why techniques and styles can travel between works produced in different contexts)

Fee info

GBP 250: £250