Bernard Buffet, A Small Beach, 1966, Signed, Original lithograph, 20" x 26" Sheet Size
Bernard Buffet was born on July 10, 1928, in Paris. At fifteen, he entered the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts where he studied for two years and was introduced by the painter Aujame to various collectors. In 1946, his first painting was shown, which was a self-portrait exhibited at the Salon des Moins de Trente Ans at the Galerie Beaux-Arts. This was followed by his first solo exhibition at nineteen, at the Art Impressions book shop in Paris, and at twenty was awarded the Prix de la critique at the Galerie Saint-Placide in Paris. Buffet's unique style -harshly-drawn lines that formed angular, geometric figures and landscapes- emerged in the late 1940s. Large portions of Europe experienced economic hardship the years following World War II, and artists' materials such as paint had become expensive. Thus, Buffet's style developed in part as a practical response to the economy. He used very little color in his paintings: only grey, black, 'bistre' (a brownish color made from soot used as a pigment), and green. His style also developed in part from his association with an artists' group, L'homme temoin ('Witness-Man,' or 'Man as Witness'), which formed in 1948. This group declared the expressionist art movements -concerned primarily with form, color, and composition rather than with subject matter- to be out of touch with the social realities of post-World War II Europe. Buffet's subjects were therefore depicted with grey faces, sunken cheeks, and furrowed brows. Buffet's illustrations for Don Quixote, for instance, feature figures with elongated heads and pale skin. Buffet was also prolific, producing over 8,000 paintings, watercolors, drawings, lithographs and engravings. Suffering from Parkinson's disease Buffet committed suicide in Tourtour, France on October 4, 1999.