Painting: Shock Treatment

In what is a wry commentary on the flagging pace of Paris painting, the most sensational artist at the moment is Jean Dubuffet, who frankly prefers a drawing by a lunatic to one by Leonardo, patterns his painting on the world of children, wall scratchers, psychopaths, the self-taught and simpletons. Already past 40 when he had his first one-man show 21 years ago, he has since turned out close to 2,000 oils plus countless gouaches, drawings, collages and assemblages that incorporate every material from butterfly wings to actual dirt.

Unhealthy Convention. Critics who praise him—and there...

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