The forgotten legend of the twentieth century returns: two exhibitions of French expressionist Bernard Buffet in Paris

In the 1950s, Bernard Buffet was in the top five of the most famous celebrities of France, along with Yves Saint Laurent and Françoise Sagan, his work was collected by Hitchcock, Dior and Sophia Loren, and ten years later he was forgotten. The Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Montmartre almost simultaneously open the two largest retrospectives of Bernard Buffet. We meet a legend in order to understand why the public once turned away from him, and now the Parisians are ready to stand in line for exhibitions.Curators predictably expect a surge of interest in the work of the once scandalous artist, about which Europe and America once spoke. Exhibitions are intriguing: the last time the public saw the work of a French expressionist in 1999.Les Folles: La mariéeBernard Büffe1970, 210 × 600 cmBernard Buffet next to his self-portrait, the 1950s. Both exhibitions are accompanied by interesting documentary materials - this is a photo with celebrities, and shots from the studio, and a chronicle of high society and family life.Le cirque: AcrobatesBernard Buffet1955, 260 × 295 cm

"Bernard Buffet. Retrospective", Museum of Modern Art, Paris. October 14 - February 26, 2017

The Museum of Contemporary Art in Paris, which owns the most significant collection of Bernard Buffet, offers viewers about 100 works - painting, graphics. Monotype belongs to the group of flat printing techniques. Unlike other prints, which allow you to make a lot of impressions from one form, here you get only one image (hence the "mono" - "one" - in the title). Most often monotypes are used by illustrators of children's books. It is also popular with psychologists (to ascertain the inner state of a person) and teachers (for the development of imagination in children). Read more Collagraphy - a relatively new type of embossed printing. It was invented in the middle of the 20th century and combines environmental friendliness, ease of execution, richness of textures and plastics, and, moreover, it is well combined with other graphic manners (for example, "dry needle"). The printed matrix is ​​a collage (hence the name combining the words "collage" and "graph") and is created by sticking various materials — fabrics, plastic, sand, plants, and so on — to a wooden or cardboard base using various pastes. Read more In the second half of the 15th century, woodcuts began to crowd out an engraving on metal or intalo. The term is derived from the Italian intagliare, meaning "cut, incline, cut through." Unlike woodcuts, where the protruding portions of the matrix are imprinted on paper, here visible traces are left by grooves containing ink. Therefore, metal engraving belongs to the group of intaglio printing techniques. Read more, illustrations and photos. The exhibition has already become a sensation.Photo:“From the very beginning of his work after the war, he was on a par with Picasso, as a successor of the continuity of French painting. Then everything collapsed. It is absolutely unbelievable that Bernard Buffet, the great artist, was disregarded at one time, ”- the exhibition curator Dominique Gagne.
  • B. Buffet "Self-portrait on a black background", 1956
  • B. Buffe in the workshop on the background of his paintings, 1950s.
Buffet became an artistic phenomenon of post-war France - his images of gloom and suffering reflected a time of difficulty. Bernard Buffet was born in Paris in 1928, his youth was spent in a Nazi-occupied city with a curfew, acutely feeling the shortage of the most necessary. He soon showed a rebellious character - he left the lyceum and began to attend evening drawing classes. His unique talent allowed him to enter the Academy of Arts at the age of 16, and at the age of 20 he became a real "star" in Paris.

His success began with the work "Two naked in the room" - then the artist was only 19 years old, and he was soon talked about as the main rival of Picasso.
B. Buffet "Two naked men in a room", 1947

Painting "Drunkard" 1958: Buffet develops a popular story and continues the tradition of French artists Degas and Picasso.
  • B. Buffet "Drunk", 1958
  • B. Buffet "Pierre Berger", 1950
Still LifeBernard Buffet1952, 135 × 224 cm

After the war, when the artist was not even 20 years old, Bernard Buffet found his own style, which he will follow all his work.
His work is inherent in a simplified image of objects surrounded by a black outline; a clear, concise picture with pronounced graphic “effects” and stereotypical characters devoid of emotions or, on the contrary, grotesque and full of expression.
B. Buffet "Model in the Studio", 1956

In 1959, the artist married the writer Annabelle Schwab, who became the main muse and great love of Bernard Buffet. We meet this beautiful couple at the premieres of exhibitions, film festivals, cafes and in the spouses' own castle, which the wealthy artist acquired shortly after the wedding.
  • B. Buffe "Annabel", 1960
  • Annabelle and Bernard Buffet at the Cannes Film Festival, 1963
Photo: Bernard and Annabel Buffet in the castle of Chateau l'Arc, near Aix-en-Provence, where they lived until 1964. Courtesy Dean Loomis, GettyBuffe's stunning career continued for a decade, his extraordinary bold works brought fame and wealth to the artist and attracted famous collectors.

At the Venice Biennale in 1956, his works were presented by a separate pavilion, the Vatican Museum provided a separate hall for the exhibition, in 1958 he was invited to the jury of the Cannes Film Festival, and at one of his exhibitions there was a real “büfemania” - they came to the opening
8,000 people and the movement stopped in the city. The artist was not yet 30 years old.
Every year the artist participated in the annual Paris Salons and opened his own solo exhibitions. All of them were a sensation for viewers and critics.
Photo: Bernard and Annabel Buffet at the Cannes Film Festival, 1960

In 1958, the New York Times called Bernard Buffet a great genius of modern times, including in the Legendary Five of France, along with Bridget Bardot, Yves Saint Laurent,
Roger Vadim and Francoise Sagan.

In the 1950s-1960s, Buffet was at the peak of fame, a world-renowned artist, whose works were acquired for very substantial sums by European and Hollywood stars - Sophia Loren, Christian Dior, Alfred Hitchcock, Kirk Douglas.
Photo: Bernard Buffet and Sophie Loren, 1950–1960s

  • B. Buffe "Workshop", 1947
  • Buffe in the workshop in his castle, 1950s. Courtesy Francois Pages, Paris Match Archive, Getty
Beach. UmbrellaBernard Buffet1967, 200 × 524 cm
“You consider me pretentious, but look at these pictures, - as they say, it had to be done” - Bernard Buffet.Angel of war From the series "The Horrors of War" Bernard Buffet1954, 265 × 685 cmHorreur de la guerre: Les fusillésBernard Buffe 1954, 265 × 600 cm

With the advent of heavy for the perception of the series "The Horrors of War" and "Torn", telling about human cruelty, the art of Buffet more and more caused misunderstanding, amazement, and sometimes rejection of viewers and critics.
This happened at the scandalous exhibition "Birds" in 1960 at the Garnier Gallery in Paris. When a respectable audience came to the exhibition and saw ambiguous scenes, art critics picked up the viewer's dumb question: “So, in your opinion, is it terribly beautiful or scary beautiful?”.
B. Buffet "A skinned head", from the series "Les ecroches", 1960

Les oiseaux: L'aigleBernard Buffet1959, 240 × 430 cm “The hatred that surrounds me is the best gift I could give. “I didn’t spare anything or anyone — few people can say so.” - Bernard Buffet. In the 1970s, interest in the artist disappears and, while in his native France they forget about him, on the other side of the planet, - in Japan, - the collector Kiichiro Okano founded the Bernard Buffet Museum in 1973. The artist visited him a few years later, and the country itself became a new source of inspiration.Dreading networksBernard Buffet1948, 200 × 308 cmPhoto:

The exhibition also tells about the artist's children's hobby, which influenced his work. The only subject that interested Bernard at school and got good grades was natural science. He often writes animals and birds, using not only the language of metaphor, but also the knowledge gained at school.
Pictured: Annabelle and Bernard Buffet in the workshop

  • B. Buffet "Owl", 1969
  • B. Buffet "Orangutan. Female", 1997
Twenty thousand leagues under the water. The giant octopusBernard Buffet1989, 233 × 309 cm

The exhibition also presents works from the series The Passion of the Christ, illustrations for the works of Dante, Baudelaire and Cocteau, and the exhibition ends with works from the series Memento mori.
B. Buffet “Death. 7, 1999

“He had the same need to draw as we do - it is necessary to drink and eat. It was his inner need. I was fascinated by the energy and devotion that he gave to his work ”- the artist’s son, Nicolas Buffet.

Bernard Buffet suffered from Parkinson’s disease. When he realized that he could no longer work, he committed suicide. He was 71 years old.
In the photo Annabelle and Bernard Buffet

"Bernard Buffet. Intimement", Museum of Montmartre, Paris. October 18 - March 5, 2017

“The exhibition is not a classic retrospective, it is a free exposition with spectacular works and documentary materials, revealing a psychological portrait. A portrait is a realistic genre depicting a person or a group of people in reality. The portrait - in the French reading - portrait, from the old French portraire - "reproduce something line in line." Another facet of the name of the portrait lies in the outdated word "parsuna" - from the Latin. persona - "person; person". Read further Bernard Buffet, his deep view of the world and the aesthetics of his perception, ”says chief art curator Yann le Pichon, a friend of Bernard Buffe, who wrote a three-volume monograph about him about the exhibition.

The exhibition will present about 150 works - paintings, drawings, prints and photographs from public collections of the Pompidou Center, Grenoble Art Museums, Lille, Jean Cocteau House-Museum, Bernard Buffe Museum in Higashino (Japan).
11 sections of the exhibition illustrate the diverse and changeable genius of the artist - the main "meeting of the artist with himself" and the meeting of the artist with the outside world. Farcass parades of the circus Medrano; Meetings with literature and theater; Annabel - eternal love; Solitary walks; Bestiary of love; Resurrected still lifes; Christ's suffering next to the Mother; Man at sea.

B. Buffet "Still Life with Melon", 1949

“Bernard Buffet showed me the sacred, sacrificial path of his art dedicated to the atonement of human suffering, loneliness and death” - Yann le Pichon.For the first time, viewers will see exceptional works from the collection of the artist’s son, Nicolas Buffet.Pink House on MontmartreBernard Buffet1989, 114 × 146 cmB. Buffet, Place de Pigalle in Paris, 1989

At the exhibition, viewers will also see unique works created by Buffet in 1961 during the painting of the chapel in the artist’s castle.

AnnabelBernard Buffet1959, 195 × 165 cm The Bernard Buffet exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art will run until February 26, 2017, and at the Museum of Montmartre will be open until March 5, 2017. According to press releases from the Museum of Montmartre, the Museum of Contemporary Art, publications on sites. ,, Title illustration (right): B. Buffet "Clown Head", 1955, oil on canvas, 73 × 60, Bernard Buffet Foundation, Paris