The Spinney by Jean Dubuffet

Without narration, we follow all the different stages leading up to the unveiling of The Spinney, a monumental sculptural work by Jean Dubuffet, on June 18, 1988 in Flaine, Haute Savoie, France - the location chosen by Dubuffet himself.


Biographical Details

Up to the First World War, it is possible, and traditional, to view the progress of modern European art as a series of more or less distinct 'movements' – Neo-classicism, Romanticism, Realism, Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Cubism and so forth. Between the wars, however, and after the Second World War, as Cubism and Surrealism waned, the absence began to be felt of a dominant 'ism' in Europe. To some extent American art continued the 'relay race' principle, in which Abstract Expressionism, then Minimalism, were offered as current mainstreams. In Europe individual personalities tended to plow their own separate furrow, and chief among these, for many, wan Jean Dubuffet, an artist with the breadth and energy to rival Picasso's dominance.

Born in 1901, Dubuffet was close in his youth to many artists and writers such as Léger, Dufy and Ionesco, and by 1918 was a student at the Académie Julien, Paris, where so many major modern artists studied, yet he did not devote himself fully to painting and sculpture until around 1942. before then he experimented with interior design, philosophy, music and literature, and followed the Dada movement with interest. Once launched, however, his career was meteoric. His preoccupations were with children's art and the art of psychotics – anti-fine-art manifestations which he called 'art brut'. His own work depicted cartoonish, seemingly primitive figures, faces and animals. Visits to the Sahara Desert n 1947 and 1948 were critical for him, his own paintings sometimes resembling rock and cave paintings, or referring to the geological and soil structures of the terrain. His pictures consisted, at various times, of abstract surfaces made up of tiny, teeming incidents, of groups of childish figures going about rural or urban business, or of palimpsests of words and objects, both depicted and real, collaged into the surface. He frequently built up surfaces of debris and raw matter, to make volcanic-seeming landscapes relating closely to the Natural History series of Max Ernst. Many of his works aspire to the condition of graffiti. In his later painting and sculpture he moves toward a bolder manner, employing only white, black, red and blue, and structuring interlocking jigsaw shapes that build up into an endless, active jumble.


'... an inspiration for artists ... can at times be mesmerizing ... highly artistic ... fits together in unexpected ways. This is a video that art discussion groups or those into surrealism may enjoy.' Video Rating Guide for Libraries, USA


Director: Nedjima Scialom

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Catalog number #627

16 minutes Color

Age Range: 12 to Adult

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