The French art world is full of renowned artists in various fields. Bernard Buffet is one of them. But the life of this painter can be summed up as a rollercoaster. Indeed, he has known glory but also decline. He was considered a worthy successor to Picasso before being repudiated as vulgar and the epitome of bad taste.
But who is Bernard Buffet?
Bernard Buffet was born in 1928 in the French capital and entered one of the most prestigious art schools in Paris at the age of 15. Once he had graduated, he decided to become a self-employed artist. In 1948, at a competition of rising stars in the field of art, he won first place in Exe quo. Seven years later, he repeated the feat, but this time alone on the top step during a competition organised by the magazine Connaissance des Arts. In this event, the magazine wanted to reward the 10 best painters of the time. At the beginning of 1974, he became an academician of Fine Arts. In 1999, Bernard Buffet died at the age of 71 after taking his own life.
Ups and downs
At the age of 18, Bernard Buffet presented his first painting at the Galerie des Beaux-Arts. The art gallery owner Emmanuel David offered the young man an exclusive contract. The public demanded his resolutely figurative works, making Buffet a millionaire at 28.
Andy Warhol called Buffet one of the last famous painters. Yet in the decades that followed, Buffet was shunned by the public and ridiculed by the likes of Picasso. This widespread campaign against Buffet has effectively damaged his reputation in France. Some criticize him for offering an overly commercial work of art and put his artistic talent in the background. But he produced remarkable works of art until his death. His works have been exhibited in Paris every year since 1947.
And his work?
His work has become so iconographic and pervasive in France that you can find prints by the artist everywhere. He used such thick paint on his canvases that one can easily see a link between the abstract expressionist group and Buffet’s art in this sense. He was so preoccupied with touch and the three dimensions of the painting itself.