Art: Beauty Is Nowhere

"Personally," Painter Jean Dubuffet once declared, "I believe very much in values of savagery. I mean: instinct, passion, mood, violence, madness." No one can accuse Dubuffet of being false to his credo, for his paintings (see color) often seem to be the work of a savage or a madman—or a child. They have caused gasps of shock and hoots of derision; yet today a Dubuffet canvas can command as much as $30,000, and among critics it is now the thing to say that Dubuffet himself is the most important painter to come out of postwar France.

Last week the man seemed to...

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