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Bernard Buffet, le samouraï

Jean-Claude Lamy

Salvador Dali, who had a mediocre opinion of him, had pronounced this play on words years before his death. Bernard Buffet, born in 1928, was launched like a meteor at the age of 20, adored at the age of 25 (in 1955, a survey carried out by «Connaissance des arts» classified him as the most important French painter of the post war period, far ahead of Mathieu or Soulages), and held in contempt at the age of 40: his itinerary is not very typical… just like the opinions he crystallised. Malraux and Picasso hated him, Dufy and Warhol believed he was a genius. The biography by Jean-Claude Lamy looks at this fiercely figurative painter with a favorable prejudice by insisting on the character more than on the content of his painting. A rich parade of human comedy is then reviewed in which the first scenes are held by Pierre Bergé (Buffet’s lover and pygmalion before he abandoned him for Yves Saint Laurent), the critic Pierre Descargues, Jean Giono or Annabel, the oracle of Saint-Germain-des-Prés (in a famous photo, she is in the same bed as Juliette Greco). Behind the money and the glory (that is still strong in Japan and Russia), lies a tragic destiny, that ended with a suicide by suffocation.

• Bernard Buffet, le samouraï by Jean-Claude Lamy, Albin Michel, 2008, 368 p., 22 €, ISBN : 978-2-226-18080-3

Bernard Buffet, le samouraï - Jean-Claude Lamy

Review published in the newsletter #82 - from 20 March 2008 to 26 March 2008

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