Jean Dubuffet: Terres radieuses / Strahlende Erden, Zeichnungen, 32-teilige Folge
At first sight the eponymous violinist and the figure of the dog gazing at him can scarcely be made out in the casually interwoven lines of this drawing. Nonetheless, the touching pair in the centre of the image does detach itself from its surroundings. In some areas the artist held reed pens parallel to each other and drew the lines in a free style across the sheet, introducing a discordant note, so to speak. This lively yet undefined, two-dimensional space forms the light foreground. It offers room for further possible figures but the musician and the animal are the only figures integrated into the drawing - in the contrasting upper part, which consists of closely crowded cell forms built up with an ink brush and furnished with dark inner fields. Contrasting with the idyll which prevails at the front, this rigorously structured background looks like the plan of a densely populated metropolis.
Jean Dubuffet was forty-one before he finally decided to devote his life to painting, and worked from the start outside the usual norms as regards content and aesthetics. For him, it was unconventional, artistic outsiders who led the way. He collected their works himself and coined the term 'Art Brut' ('raw art') to describe them. The originality of his trivial yet humane-looking approach to the human figure and his rough painting style aroused great interest in the post-war years in America, where his works became known from 1946 onwards through exhibitions at the Pierre Matisse Gallery in New York. Coming from Paris, the leading art centre at that time, Dubuffet worked in New York from November 1951 until April 1952. It was in New York that he met Jackson Pollock, who had caused quite a stir with his 'drip painting' technique.
Their mutual regard for each other's unconventional artistic pictorial language became immediately evident in Dubuffet's work in a series of drawn figures with which he incorporated the tramps of New York's Bowery district into his world of subjects. What is surprising about these 'Bowery bums', however, is not so much their perceived presence in the cityscape as the appropriately vivid and fleeting style of the ink drawings. After his return from America the artist worked from June to October 1952 on the so-called 'Terres radieuses / Radiant Earths', a group of thirty-two drawings, to which the 'Violoniste au chien' also belongs. The playful lines and the expansive imaginary landscapes can be seen as a response by the European artist Dubuffet to the 'all-over' principle of the American artist Pollock.