Page 17 - Studio International - May 1966
P. 17

and then produce an entirely new system of forms whose  a schema of irrationality, as Dubuffet did, this does not
                                  roots are so deeply sunk in the thought and dreams of his  necessarily make the choice instinctive; and even if it
                                  society that they change sensibility overnight.   was instinctive, its articulation will be deliberate. Which
                                   I do not know of any art movement whose origins sup-  is to say no more than that artists know what they are
                                  port this naive theory of the sudden, autonomous act  painting and why they are painting it. Whatever the
                                  with no past. 'If we were to burn all the libraries,' mused  history of style will be, it is not a Fisher King which has
                                  Hugo Ball, 'a wonderful age of innocence would begin.'  to be ceremonially destroyed every five years to ensure
                                  But if the Dadaists had burnt the libraries, they would  fertility.
                                  also have burnt the books from which they borrowed this   Dubuffet's style is quite deliberate, which is why it is
                                  idea: Nietzsche's, for instance.                  primitivism, not primitive art. It is the painting of a man
                                   Art builds and feeds on other art. It also feeds on litera-  who is very much aware of a modern European dream—
                                  ture—Botticelli and Poliziano, Gauguin and Poe, the  the idea that vitality, within the context of modern cul-
                                  Surrealist painters and the Surrealist writers. To point  ture, can be achieved by a return to the origins of form,
                                  this out is not to denigrate the artist's powers. It is rather  to the crude, the half-articulate, the instinctive. Un-
                                  to give painters the credit of an intelligence which the  fortunately, it seems to me, no matter how far you go
                                  theory of endless originality denies them. Like their  back, you will still finish against a wall of style. Neither
         Vache au nez subtil 1954   audience, they read and they look. As they look, they  Dubuffet, nor you, nor I can become as little children;
          Oil                     assent to some of the forms they see, and reject others.  we can only pretend to have done so. We do not see an
          35 x 45+ in.
          Museum of Modern Art,   This assent, once it has become conscious,  is an act of  Altamira bison the way the cave-men did, because all
          New York                choice.  The painter chooses his schema. If he has chosen   the assumptions of our society are different, and the gap
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