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 Bernard Buffet  (1928 - 1999)

About: Bernard Buffet
 

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Lived/Active: France      Known for: abstract figural painting, engraving, printmaking, design

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Ad Code: 1
Bernard Buffet Cannes
from Auction House Records.
NATURE MORTE AU HIBOU
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

The following was written and submitted by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California:

Bernard Buffet was born in Paris, France on July 10, 1928.  He entered the Ecole des Beaux Arts in 1944 but worked mostly in solitude.  He obtained an exhibition at the Gal. des Impressions d'Art in 1947 but attracted no attention.  About that time he found his individual style and in 1948 won the Prix de la Critique jointly with Bernard Lorjou. After that he enjoyed the greatest acclaim of the younger French painters, becoming the most commercially successful French painter alive.

He developed a highly mannered style immediately recognizable as his own.  In sharp and spikey linear forms and with dismal greys and neutral tones he depicted emaciated figures and distorted still-lifes which seemed to express the existential and spiritual solitude of the postwar generation. Later, overwhelmed by commissions and success, his work became more stylized and decorative, losing in some measure its initial impact.  He also did graphic work and book illustrations.  His career culminated with a museum devoted to his work near Mishima, Japan, not in his native France.   

Buffet once used his mother's torn sheets as canvases.  He had the most spectacular success, claiming that "wealth aids my creative spirit; poverty does not necessarily help genius."  Among his famous friends was the novelist Francoise Sagan.  Unfortunately, he suffered from Parkinson's disease and had been unable to work and on October 4, 1999 at his home in Var in southern France, he committed suicide.   

Sources include:   
The Oxford Companion to 20th Century Art, edited by Harold Osborn   
From the internet, a contribution by Christopher Masters from Microsoft Encarta 98, Deluxe British Edition


Biography from Denis Bloch Fine Art:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

French painter, etcher, lithographer, designer and occasional sculptor, Bernard Buffet was born in Paris where he studied at The Ecole des Beaux Arts from 1944-45.  Highly precocious, Buffet had his first one man exhibition in 1947 in Paris at the Galerie des Impressions d’Art in Paris and the following year, at the age of 20, was awarded the Prix de la Critique.

By this time, Buffet had already established his distinctive style, characterized by elongated, angular forms with dark outlines, muted colors and a solitary mood.  He used a wide range of subjects including religious scenes, landscapes, still lifes and portraits.  His work seemed to express the existential alienation and spiritual solitude of the post-war generation and he enjoyed enormous success in the 1950s.

In 1955, he was awarded the first prize by the magazine Connaissance des Arts, which named the 10 best post-war artists.  In 1958, at the age of 30, the first retrospective of his work was held at the Galerie Charpentier. Bernard Buffet has had many solo exhibitions world-wide, including New York, Chicago, Palm Beach, Montréal, Vancouver, Tokyo, Osaka, Johannesburg, London, Amsterdam, Bruxelles, Berlin, Zurich, Genève, Rome, Venice, Milan and Madrid.  The Surugadaira Museum in Japan is dedicated to collecting his works, boasting nearly 1,000 of Buffet’s works.

On December 12, 1958 Bernard Buffet married Annabel Schob—they would soon have two daughters, Virginie born in 1962 and Danielle born in 1963.  In 1971, the same year that he was named Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur, his son Nicolas was born.

An exceptional engraver and lithographer, Bernard Buffet embraced printmaking and is also recognized for his remarkable book illustrations.  A 1992 poll for the French magazine Beaux-Arts, French people declared preferring Bernard Buffet to Vermeer or Andy Warhol.

Buffet died in 1899, suffering from Parkinson’s disease and despondent over being unable to work.

QUOTE:
“Painting—we do not talk about it, we do not analyze it, we feel it.”

Select Museum Collections:
Tate Gallery, London
J. Paul Getty Museum, CA
Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, CA
National Gallery of Canada
ARTAX, Dusseldorf

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