Graffiti-like form with legs in white, blue, and red.

Jean Dubuffet
Creation Year 1971
b. 1901 Le Havre, France; d. 1985 Paris, France
Vinyl and acrylic paint on Klegecell, polyester foam
71 1/4 x 33 3/4 x 3 inches
Accession date: 2007
Bequest of Isadore and Kelly Friedman
© 2020 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

The meandering lines of L’Ophtalmopathe epitomize the extemporaneous quality Dubuffet strove to achieve in his artwork. It is a figurative subject in the widest sense of the word and difficult to comprehend as the lines that articulate the figure and the background are so dense that they almost cancel each other out. The title is the French name for an autoimmune disorder that causes a person’s eyes to bulge out. This was the exact effect Dubuffet wanted from his art– replacing direct representation with spontaneous inventions thereby developing a new imagery to depict in this case the human form. L’Ophtalmopathe is a single artwork in an extensive series title “Hourloupe;” an invented word that merges two ideas: "hurler" or “hululer” which is to roar or hoot and "loupe" which means knob or gnarl. The series preoccupied Dubuffet from 1962 to 1974, included paintings on canvas and sculptures in the round and was characterized by exaggerated lines, flat interlocking shapes and striated coloring all in red, white and blue.

Dubuffet was fascinated with graffiti, untrained artists and the art of the mentally ill. He admired and emulated the raw, innocent vision and directness of technique of such individuals. He eventually coined the term Art Brut, to name this fresh and spontaneous work. His art initially provoked outrage, then found acceptance and eventually reverence, as a key originator of modern art’s stripping art down to its essence and rejecting all previous and traditional standards of beauty and convention.