Perceiving Dubuffet

BookPerceiving Dubuffet

Perceiving Dubuffet

Art, Embodiment and the Viewer


February 18th, 2021





Perceiving Dubuffet: Art, Embodiment, and the Viewer offers a comprehensive reconsideration of Jean Dubuffet’s work which contextualizes it within contemporary developments in phenomenology and examines the central role played by questions relating to embodiment in the evolution of his aesthetic thinking and artistic practice. Conceived as an interdisciplinary project and combining phenomenological approaches with detailed visual and linguistic analysis, elucidation of interpictorial and intertextual reference, and extensive archival research, the study examines the development across Dubuffet’s work of a core set of cognate themes and formal concerns, charts his many and various shifts in priority and direction, and identifies the constants that drive his tireless experimentation with materials, genre, dimensionality, viewer involvement, visual-verbal interplay, and metareference. Topics explored include: the affinities between Merleau-Ponty's account of the phenomenological reduction and Dubuffet's conception of the functioning of the artwork; Dubuffet’s thematisation of the experience of embodiment; the foregrounding of temporality and the exploration of corporeal and associative memory; the testing and transgression of generic boundaries; the experimentation with unconventional materials and with dimensionality; the impact of Dubuffet’s reading of scientific theory and of Daoist and Buddhist philosophy on his understanding of man’s relationship with his environment; and the central role given to the viewer's physical interaction with the artwork. Perceiving Dubuffet: Art, Embodiment, and the Viewer covers Dubuffet’s lengthy career and examines the full range of his pictorial and sculptural œuvre and the large corpus of aesthetic writings produced between the 1940s and the 1980s.

'Jean Duffy's phenomenologically-based examination of the artist's entire oeuvre is highly original, intelligent and well-researched. This book will likely change the field of Dubuffet Studies.' Dr Kent Minturn, The Institute of Fine Arts, New York University

'A detailed, comprehensive, and readable account of Dubuffet’s work, Perceiving Dubuffet is a highly informative and impressive piece of scholarship.' Dr Johanna Malt, King’s College London

Author Information

Jean Duffy is Emeritus Professor of French at the University of Edinburgh.

Table of Contents

Section TitlePage
Illustrations and Copyright Information
Outline Chronology
Chapter 1: Breaking the Habit, Changing the View
Chapter 2: Bodies and Boundaries
Chapter 3: Rearranging Faces
Chapter 4: Like Riding a Bicycle: Body Memory and Time-Consciousness
Chapter 5: Assemblage, Association and Transformation: Dubuffet’s Memory Theatres
Chapter 6: Times of Our Lives
Chapter 7: Routes, Routines, and Wayfaring Travellers
Chapter 8: Science, Art, and Language
Conclusion and Epilogue