Reconsidering Bernard Buffet: From His Theme Exhibitions

Session: Semester 1 :March 18, 2017 - January 16, 2018
Semester 2 : January 18 - September 4, 2018
  • 1962 oil on canvas

Sharp lines that seem scraped onto the canvas. A sharply restricted palette. The exclusion of every bit of unnecessary decoration. Unique portraits that capture the unease of people in the postwar years. All define the unique “Buffet Style.”Introduced to the art world at the age of 20, Bernard Buffet instantly became one of Paris’ most famous painters.

This exhibition showcases works from Buffet’s annual “themed exhibitions” to provide an overview of the artist’s work. Starting in 1952, Buffet held yearly exhibitions, choosing themes such as “the Passion” and “Circus,” in an effort to expand his creative range. In these works, we can see moments in the artist’s history when he himself was quarreling with the “Buffet Style” that had, so early and quickly, established his reputation.
In Japan, too, Buffet’s works resonated widely. This exhibition introduces the “Japan” series (Japan having also been his 1980 exhibition theme) and materials relating to his exhibitions in Japan, which played a major role in introducing his work, in an effort to clarify the close relationship of Buffet and Japan.
Despite Buffet’s enormous influence, it was not until nearly twenty years after his death that a large-scale Buffet retrospective was held in Paris, important books were published, and a major reassessment of Buffet began. With more than a hundred masterworks from our museum’s own collection, this exhibition reconsiders the half century of themed work Buffet created in his artistic career.