The Delight of a Dubuffet

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Jean Dubuffet was a Parisian artist that founded the art brut stylistic movement in the early 1970s. Even though he was European, America loved him as its own. He is well-recognized in Chicago for his famous 1984 sculpture, Monument with Standing Beast that resides at the Thompson Center, across the street from Chicago’s City Hall. The Conservation Center had the immense pleasure of conserving one of his sculptures at The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts in 2017, and recently finished treating yet another uniquely brilliant piece of his work. Albeit smaller than the 29-foot-tall monument that remains a landmark here in Chicago and the sculptures at the Kentucky Center, it holds the same eccentric abstraction that the artist was known for producing.  

Jean Dubuffet

Jean Dubuffet

Conservators from The Center working on Dubuffet’s  Faribolus and Perceval  at The Kentucky Center, 2017

Conservators from The Center working on Dubuffet’s Faribolus and Perceval at The Kentucky Center, 2017

Paysage a trois personnages is a multimedia piece consisting of ink on newsprint collage, mounted on paper and linen canvas. His technique, reminiscent of papier-mâché, reiterates the artist’s previous themes of muted colors and vaguely anthropomorphic figures.  

The piece arrived at The Center with select delamination between the collage elements and the paper support scattered throughout. The newsprint collage also exhibited age-related discoloration, and there was selective adhesive residue in the upper left and right corners of the piece. There was a minimal layer of surface soil throughout. There were also several tack holes along the edge of the linen support, where the vitrine was attached to the work. Because this treasured artwork came to us in stable condition, only cosmetic conservation was performed. 

Before Treatment

Before Treatment

Verso Before Treatment

Verso Before Treatment

The Dubuffet was photographed for documentation upon arrival, then sent to our paper conservation department. The piece was taken out of its frame and surface cleaned using the appropriate conservation methods and materials. Because the paper elements were adhered to a linen canvas and could not be removed, the age-related discoloration could not be addressed. Next, the holes along the tacking edge of the linen support were filled and compensated. 

After Treatment

After Treatment

Verso After Treatment

Verso After Treatment

The Dubuffet was then reframed into a custom ebonized walnut frame with a gold lip. The client also elected to upgrade the glazing to Optium Museum Acrylic, which prevents further discoloration and damage from UV light rays, and offers anti-reflective and anti-static benefits. Finally, a Coroplast backing board was attached to the reverse to prevent additional, potential damage.  

Read about our previous Dubuffet treatment by clicking here.

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