Home > Current events > CHAISSAC-DUBUFFET The pen and the paintbrush

The pen and the paintbrush


The friendship between two great artists in 160 works and along their correspondence

Jean Dubuffet, Trinité-Champs Elysées, 25 March 1961, oil on canvas,
116 x 89 cm, Fondation Gandur pour l’Art, Geneva. Jean Dubuffet © Adagp Paris 2013



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• Full rate: €6.50
• Reduced rate: €5.
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• Admission ticket entitles visit to the permanent collections.


Josette Rasle


Marie-Anne Teulat
• Tel: 01 42 79 23 29 / 06 74 56 14 01
• E-mail : marieanneteulat@gmail.com

Gaston Chaissac (1910-1964) and Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985) met in 1946, through an exchange of letters and the help of Jean Paulhan. Their friendship began with writing and lasted until Chaissac’s demise. Their correspondence - 448 letters –is a gold mine for anyone who wishes to understand their respective works in the light of their passions and their dislikes, their hopes, their successes and their disappointments. More than 80 pieces - paintings, sculptures and objects - accompany the documents and the letters exhibited.

Gaston Chaissac, Visage aux hachoirs, 1947-1948, gouache on mi-teinte paper mounted on plywood, 64 x 48 cm, private collection. Gaston Chaissac © Adagp Paris 2013.

Art around the corner

The very colorful gouaches by Gaston Chaissac reveal un unusual colorist. Dubuffet excels in crushing matter in his textured “hautes pâtes”. While their means differ, they share the desire to constantly experiment. Gaston Chaissac defined himself as a “rustic, modern painter”. Jean Dubuffet was a fervent defender of “art brut”. But both stalked art at every corner and would seize it, alive, where others did not see it. The exhibition invites the viewer to discover this new art that they both mastered, recycling and metamorphosing insignificant, vulgar materials. The exhibit underlines the artistic and literary complicity between these two talented painters and writers.

One in Paris, the other in the province

Jean Dubuffet interrupted his art for ten years, a period during which he was a wine merchant. Once he settled back in Paris, he renewed definitely with his first artistic loves in 1944, in a personal successful exhibition at the galerie Drouin. At the same time Chaissac left the capital. As an enlightened self-taught man he had started his path towards art with the help of Otto Freundlich and Jeanne Kosnick-Kloss who organized his first, discreet, Paris exhibition at the galerie Gerbo in 1938. In 1942 he married Camille Guibert and followed her to Vendée (Boulogne, Sainte-Florence de l’Oie and finally Vix) where he would spend the rest of his life.

In search of the common man

Jean Dubuffet, Gode à la tronche, 26 May 1963, gouache on paper, 40 x 67 cm, Fondation Dubuffet, Paris. Jean Dubuffet © Adagp Paris 2013

At a first glance, the two men had very little in common. Dubuffet evolved in a comfortable, urban society, where – in spite of his distrust – he had to deal with the artistic circles and where he built himself a scandalous reputation and was very criticized in France, which very early on awakened the interest of the Americans. Gaston Chaissac was isolated in his countryside in Vendée, he only found sarcasm among the local peasants, distrusted Paris art dealers, and lived modestly with his wife - a public-school mistress- from day labors, growing his own vegetables and selling a few of his works. But as we look closely, we see they shared the same enthusiasm for everything that concerns the “common man” and rejected the worn-out recipes of a wise art they deemed too repetitive and boring.


• Catalogue of the exhibition, éditions Fage, €25.
• Correspondance Chaissac Dubuffet, published by Dominique Brunet and Josette Rasle, Gallimard, May 2013, €23.