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Jean Dubuffet

Dubuffet and Britain

Though Dubuffet always refused association with his artistic contemporaries, his subversive ideas coincided with a climate of change in post-war art.

In Britain he was included in pioneering exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London that explored new trends in British and European painting. He also found support amongst emerging artists and writers who challenged the value system of high culture. Eduardo Paolozzi and Nigel Henderson first encountered Dubuffet during visits to the Galerie René Drouin in Paris. The raw treatment of materials they observed in his work informed their development of the New Brutalist aesthetic in the UK during the early 1950s.

In 1955 Dubuffet's first solo exhibition in Britain took place at the ICA. Curated by Roland Penrose, the show was instrumental in raising his profile. Over the next years he exhibited with eminent London galleries Arthur Tooth & Sons and Robert Fraser Gallery, which followed the central developments in his work. Fraser's fashionable gallery presented Dubuffet alongside well known British and American Pop artists such as Patrick Caulfield, Richard Hamilton, Jim Dine and Andy Warhol. In 1966 Dubuffet's reputation was firmly established when the Arts Council mounted two major retrospectives at the ICA and Tate Gallery.