More Dubuffet: A Counterpoint

February 18th, 2005 · 2 Comments · Artists


“What country lacks its small clique of cultural arts; its troop of careerist intellectuals. It is obligatory. From one capital to another, they ape each other marvelously; they practice an artificial, Esperanto art tirelessly copied everywhere. Is art the right word? Does it actually have anything to do with art?

It is fairly widely thought that in considering the artistic production of intellectuals, one is at the same time grasping the flower of production in general, since intellectuals, being drawn from the common people, cannot lack any of their qualities, having rather those additional qualities acquired by wearing out their trousers on the schoolroom bench — without allowing for the fact that intellectuals think themselves by definition far more intelligent than ordinary people. But is this really so? One also meets plenty of people with a far less favourable opinion of the intellectual type. The intellectual type seems to them directionless, impenetrable, lacking in vitamins, a swimmer in pap. Empty, without magnetism, without vision.

Perhaps the solid seat of the intellectual has been pulled out from under him. The intellectual’s labours are always carried out while seated: at school, at conferences, at congresses. Often while dozing; sometimes while dead. Dead in one’s seat.”

Jean Dubuffet, from “Crude Art Preferred to Cultural Art,” 1949

Category: Artists

2 Comments so far ↓

  • michael napper

    wonderful little passage by dubuffet…yes, what this world needs now is less brain and more heart….keep up the good work.

  • Meg

    Thanks, Michael. Dubuffet doesn’t have all the answers, and does seem to be reacting to the reigning tenet of formalism, but he’s such a wonderful counterpoint to critical pomposity — including my own.

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