New York-based filmmaker Sophia Loren Heriveaux has released an interesting film comparing the artistic lives of Jean Dubuffet and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Produced by Goldfin Films and in partnership with the Barbican Centre, Brut, My Beauty provides a fascinating look at two artists separated by nearly 60 years, but who possess a strikingly similar aesthetic, influences, and philosophy towards society and life.
As the film shows in more detail, neither had a formal art education and were equally inspired by self-taught artists. Both had a similar approach to painting their work, hovering over the canvas as it lay on the floor. Amongst their biggest similarities, the film argues, is the idea that both artists defied the traditions of realist paintings by capturing the spirit of their subjects through their raw and gestural aesthetics.
In the 1980s, Basquiat would ask Pace Gallery founder, Arne Glimcher, if was able to be in attendance when Dubuffet’s work was being installed. Some art historians believe the rising horizon lines in some of Basquiat’s subsequent work was inspired by these visits, such as the French artist’s landscape (paysage), 1950-59.
It is unknown to the public whether the two actually met, but perhaps the closest encounter the two physically had, was in 1983, when they both exhibited at a group show, entitled “Expressive Painting After Picasso” at Basel’s Beyeler Foundation. Regardless if they ever met or were influenced by one another, they inevitably share a symbiotic relationship in the canon of art history.