Abstract

Alongside his writings on the cloud, architecture, the Italian Renaissance, and cinema that established him as one of the most important art historians and philosophers working in France since the 1960s, Hubert Damisch (1928–) edited the four volumes of the writings of artist Jean Dubuffet (1901–1985) and dedicated no less than eighteen articles to his work from 1961 to 2001. Dubuffet is, in other words, the contemporary artist with whom Damisch had the most extensive and prolonged contact during the years 1961–1985. Until now these writings have been overlooked, even though they are contemporary to Damisch's writing on other subjects and demonstrate the major role played by Dubuffet in his thinking. This essay introduces the correspondence between Dubuffet and Damisch, shedding light on Damisch's writings on Dubuffet that are also published in this issue of October. I examine the context of their first meeting in 1961 and seek to understand the dynamics of the relationship between an artist then at a turning point of his career—he was the subject of major retrospective exhibitions in France and the United States and at a crucial point of rupture within his work—and a young philosopher and art historian who had recently moved away from phenomenology to study and write about art. At this critical moment, Dubuffet's oeuvre provided material through which Damisch could investigate art through philosophy and philosophy through art.

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