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Group Exhibition

Dubuffet and Basquiat: Personal Histories

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Press Release

  • Dubuffet/Basquiat: Personal Histories
    This week PaceWildenstein opens Dubuffet/Basquiat: Personal Histories, an exhibition that explores the themes, icons, and recurring motifs in Jean-Michel Basquiat’s mature work (1981-83) and Jean Dubuffet’s Théâtres de Mémoires paintings (1976-79) at 534 West 25th Street, New York, from April 28 through June 17, 2006. A full color catalogue with an essay by Lawrence Rinder will accompany the exhibition. In his essay, Rinder explains that, “One doesn’t usually think of Dubuffet and Basquiat as contemporaries, yet there was a brief though important period at the very beginning of Basquiat’s career and at the end of Dubuffet’s when they were struggling with related representational issues and arriving at remarkably similar artistic solutions…. both Dubuffet and Basquiat were engaged in a methodical exploration of states of perception, knowing, and being. They used the means that best suited their purpose, arriving at remarkably similar artistic forms.” Lawrence Rinder is a former Whitney Museum curator, and currently, he is the Dean of Graduate Studies at California College of the Arts, Los Angeles. PaceWildenstein is grateful to the following institutions and individuals for generously lending work to the exhibition: The Jean Dubuffet Foundation, France; The Stephanie and Peter Brant Foundation, Greenwich, CT; Richard Gray Gallery, Chicago; Linda and Morton Janklow; Linda and Samuel Lindenbaum; Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York; Waddington Galleries, London; Muriel and Howard Weingrow; The Wynn Collection, Las Vegas; and to the private collectors who wish to remain anonymous. Jean Dubuffet (b. 1901 – d. 1985) was one of the most enigmatic, influential and prolific artists of the 20th century. A student of the Academie Julian in Paris in 1918, Dubuffet left school to pursue his own study of art and developed an appreciation for literature, language, and music. After fulfilling his military service in France, traveling, and pursuing an occupation in his family’s wine business, Dubuffet returned full-time to painting in 1942 and exhibited in American galleries and museums shortly thereafter. Like many of his generation in Europe in the wake of World War II, Dubuffet sought artistic authenticity not within the confines of formal European tradition, but rather he looked to those on the margins of art: the socially isolated and, to a limited degree, the art of children. Influenced by those perspectives on art, Dubuffet incorporated similar visual language into his own work. Dubuffet referred to this painting style as “Art Brut”. He coined the term, a predecessor to outsider art, in the late 1940s. In his lifetime Jean Dubuffet was the subject of twelve major museum retrospectives including The Museum of Modern Art (1962), which traveled to The Art Institute of Chicago and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Tate Gallery, London (1966); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1966); Museum of Fine Arts, Dallas (1966), which traveled to the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Musée des Beaux-Arts, Montreal (1969-70); and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (1973, 1981). PaceWildenstein has represented Jean Dubuffet since 1967. Jean-Michel Basquiat (b. 1960 – d. 1988), whose career lasted less than a decade, emerged as one of the most prominent artists of his generation. Raised by a Haitian-American father and a Puerto Rican-American mother in Brooklyn, NY, Jean-Michel Basquiat was not formally trained as an artist. Instead, he gained notoriety in his early teens as a graffiti artist, and a few years later, in 1981, burst onto the art scene in a group show called Times Square Show. By his early twenties, Basquiat had developed a complex language of symbols and motifs that incorporated African-American themes and the influences of urban culture, sports heroes and music icons. His use of language to elaborate on these themes and enhance the composition of his paintings broke down the barriers between written and visual forms of expression. Basquiat had six international solo shows in 1982, exhibiting in New York, Los Angeles, Zurich, Rome and Rotterdam. That same year, he was selected as the youngest artist ever to be included in Documenta 7 in Germany. He also participated in the 1983 Whitney Biennial, appeared on the cover of The New York Times Magazine in a story about the booming 1980s art market, and starred in Downtown 81 (New York Beat), a low budget film about his life. Basquiat continued to paint until his untimely death in 1988. For further information and images related to Dubuffet/Basquiat: Personal Histories please contact Jennifer Benz Joy, Public Relations Associate, at 212.421.3292 or



Lawrence Rinder

2006. PaceWildenstein. Paperback

56 pages: 20 color illustrations; 9 ¼ x 11 ¾ inches



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