The Edge of Words

24 January 2014

Professor Jean Duffy, University of Edinburgh

“Dubuffet is a ****, a ****, a ****”: seminal text and images in Jean Dubuffet’s La botte a nique


While his extensive aesthetic writings have attracted considerable critical attention, most accounts of Dubuffet’s work accord his texts in jargon a marginal status, reading them as adjuncts to his combatively expressed anticulturism or as tentative textual experiments calqued in part upon the writing of certain contemporaries. However, close examination of the most fully developed jargon text, La botte a nique, reveals a tightly constructed work, which is characterised by a linguistically sophisticated understanding of the mechanisms of the spoken language and which both illustrates some of Dubuffet’s most deeply held aesthetic principles and offers a reflexive résumé of his career.