Paralyzed during World War I, the poet Joë Bousquet was bedridden for decades until his death in 1950. Dubuffet depicts him in bed with two of his books, a newspaper, two letters addressed to him, and a package of Gauloises cigarettes. The abstract rendering of Bousquet's face and surroundings deliberately rejects physical exactness. Dubuffet championed graffiti and l'art brut—his term for the art of children, the insane, and "primitives"—as necessary alternatives to European modernism. "Let us find other ingenious ways to transcribe objects onto flat surfaces; make the surface speak its own surface-language and not a false three-dimensional language which is alien to it," he stated. Here the highly textured and gritty pigments help realize this painting’s particular "surface-language."
Gallery label from 2015.