Although the American Folk Art Museum’s exhibition space has contracted since it moved to 2 Lincoln Square from the now-demolished Tod Williams and Billie Tsien building on West Fifty-Third Street, it continues to expand thematically. Following its recent exhibition of self-taught performance artists, When the Curtain Never Comes Down, which stretched from Japan to Brazil, the museum is now mounting Art Brut in America: The Incursion of Jean Dubuffet. The two hundred works are drawn from Dubuffet’s vast collection in the Collection de l’Art Brut in Lausanne, Switzerland. The exhibition is in some ways a reprise of a ten-year-long display of twelve hundred works from his collection that was held in the East Hampton, Long Island, home of the artist Alfonso Ossorio between 1952 and 1962. This time around the works brought here will have a public venue, and what visitors will see amounts to a staging of Dubuffet’s great moment of impact on American art and artists. That some of these artists like Adolf Wölfli and Francis Palanque are now well known can in part be attributed to that canonical decade on Long Island.
Untitled (Saint Adolph bitten in the leg by the snake) by Adolf Wölfli (1864–1930), 1921. Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne, Switzerland; photograph by Marie Humair, Atelier de numérisation—Ville de Lausanne.
Art Brut in America: The Incursion of Jean Dubuffet • American Folk Art Museum, New York • to January 10, 2016 • folkartmuseum.org