Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985) was a French painter and sculptor, who produced numerous plastic arts works. He was the first to offer a theoretical reflection on what he called “art brut” (or outsider art), which originates outside any academic tradition.

Jean Dubuffet was born in Le Havre, where his parents were wholesale wine merchants. He attended the François 1er high school at the same time Raymond Queneau, Georges Limbour and Armand Salacrou. He left Le Havre aged 18 and then hesitated between painting and writing. Although he is mostly known as a painter, Dubuffet was also a prolific writer. His works were collected in a series entitled Prospectus et tous écrits suivants (the first book was published by Gallimard in 1967).

Dubuffet’s relations with his home city were ambivalent. He stayed away from Le Havre for a long time, as the city represented in his mind a suffocating family and trading atmosphere. But he kept visiting Le Havre, and shared a beautiful correspondence and friendship with Le Havre poet Jacques Berne. The city paid tribute to the painter with an exhibition in 1977, when Jean Dubuffet said he was more or less at peace with his home city.

His correspondence with Jacques Berne reflects this ambivalence.

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