press release

"Many slight works, brief, almost lacking form, ring out very loudly indeed; and for that reason they are preferable to many monumental works by illustrious professionals." (cf. Art Brut Preferred to the Cultural Arts, Jean Dubuffet, 1949).

February 2016 marks the fortieth anniversary of the Collection de l'Art Brut: The occasion merits a return to the origin of the Art Brut concept, as invented by the French artist Jean Dubuffet, and a celebration of the museum's existence, such as it was instigated by Dubuffet's donation of his Collection to the City of Lausanne on February 26th 1976.

In commemoration of this anniversary, we are mounting the exhibition L'Art Brut de Jean Dubuffet, aux origines de la collection [Jean Dubuffet's Art Brut, from the Collection's Origins]. The show is to feature over 150 pieces exclusively from the Collection de l'Art Brut holdings, and such as Jean Dubuffet himself had selected them for the historic fall 1949 exhibition held at the René Drouin Gallery in Paris. The latter exhibition was the first that the artist mounted outside the Compagnie de l'Art Brut walls: instead, he chose to show at a Vendôme Square gallery that was very popular with the post-war Parisian art fans. By reverting to this major event some sixty-seven years later allows us to take full measure of the audacity it bespoke at the time and its tremendous critical impact. Imagine labeling as "art" —and this in 1949—pieces made by self-taught strangers to the cultural circles of the day! This was to question the very idea of art, and what it was seen to represent at the time.

The upcoming exhibition is also a chance for us to group the works that Dubuffet collected between 1945, when Art Brut was first conceived, and 1949: in other words, the pieces constituting the original core of today's Collection de l'Art Brut. As such, drawings and sculptures by creators who today enjoy popular recognition—the likes of Aloïse, Adolf Wölfli and Auguste Forestier—sit side by side with works whose creators remain anonymous, with pieces in the vein of folk art or naive art, and even with several children's drawings. And all of these were grouped together already in 1949, under what Jean Dubuffet chose to designate as "Art Brut."

The challenging exhibition catalogue title chosen by René Drouin at the time - L'art brut préféré aux arts culturels [Art Brut preferred to the cultural arts], together with the lampoonist catalogue text penned by Dubuffet , make it clear that in the latter's eyes, Art Brut represents a manifesto redefining what is labeled as official art: "...real art is always just where it is not expected. Where nobody would think of it nor speak out its name. [...] It walks about everywhere; everyone has met it somewhere along the way, running into it twenty times a day at every street corner, but not a single one of them who might get the idea it could be Mr. Art himself, whom everyone speaks of in the best of terms. Because he simply doesn't look like him."

Curator: Sarah Lombardi, Director of the Collection de l'Art Brut
Scientific collaboration: Astrid Berglund, exhibition curator
Vincent Monod, Head of Library and Imagery