Artwork of the month September

Jean Dubuffet, Riant été, 1954, Hilti Art Foundation

Jean Dubuffet

* 1901 in Le Havre, † 1985 in Paris, France

Riant été, 1954 

Oil on canvas

89.5 x 116.5 cm
Hilti Art Foundation

Jean Dubuffet always thought of himself as an anti-classical artist. The sources that he drew on for inspiration – and there were many – did not come from the Occidental heritage of antiquity, but rather from such varied traditions as the then much admired "primitive" art, prehistoric cave paintings, the grotesque and absurd theatre of Antonin Artaud and even the scriptural paintings of the Surrealists.

When Dubuffet took up art at the age of 41 years, he organized his output into series that each had titles above and beyond the individual works. He painted Riant été (Laughing Summer) in Auvergne in 1954 as part of the Vaches (Cows) series. In 1967 he wrote about a small house he had purchased in July 1954 not far from Clermont-Ferrand, where he set up his studio. He describes watching the cows for a long time, as he used to do, and then drawing them afterwards from memory. Occasionally, though much more rarely, he would also draw them after nature.

At rst sight Riant été appears to be a furrowed, very green summer landscape, with cool turquoise highlights: a picture of meadows lined with trees. The artist describes the green as comforting and calming. A narrow strip of blue sky lls the top margin of the composition that is seen both from below and from the top. Only after examining the confusion of lines and meticulously studying the scratches scored in the paint with a spatula or the handle of a paintbrush can gures be distinguished, both clear-cut and vague. In the foreground, the silhouettes of two young cows and a dog can be made out despite their irregular and repeatedly broken contours. Here and there, the gures sink into the paint again, cropping up as if out of collective cultural memory, only to become part and parcel again of the overall scriptural fabric of lines.

Angela Schneider










<b>Jean Dubuffet, Riant été, 1954, Hilti Art Foundation</b>
Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein highlights a work from the permanent collection each month throughout the year. Works from the collection of the Hilti Art Foundation are also included in this series on a regular basis.