Private Collection, France;
Private Collection, United Kingdom
A bold rejecter of abstract art altogether, Buffet was a member of the anti-abstraction group L’homme Témoin, or the Witness-Man, which passionately argued for the importance of representational art at a time when abstraction began to dominate the critical conversation. His oeuvre revolved around ideas of art history, death, sexuality, popular culture, and politics while often directly referencing contemporary events and artists.
Buffet was born in Paris, France, and studied art there at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts and worked in the studio of the painter Eugène Narbonne. Sustained by the picture-dealer Maurice Garnier, Buffet produced religious pieces, landscapes, portraits and still-lifes. In 1946, he had his first painting shown, a self-portrait, at the Salon des Moins de Trente Ans at the Galerie Beaux-Arts. He had at least one major exhibition every year. In 1955, he was awarded the first prize by the magazine Connaissance des Arts, which named him one of the ten best post-war artists. In 1958, aged just 30, the first retrospective of his work was held at the Galerie Charpentier.
In 1961 he painted a series of religious works, depicting the life of Jesus Christ. These paintings were intended to decorate the interior of the Chapelle de Chateau l’Arc in Marseilles. These works, however, are now on display in the Vatican museum as they were offered there at the request of Monseigneur Pasquale Macci who was at the time, secretary to Pope Paul VI.
Buffet’s oeuvre consists of more than 800 paintings whilst he also worked as an illustrator and stage designer. Throughout his career his works can be seen to reflect the artist himself, with their unmistakable Gothicism and elegant forms that are somewhat sombre and melancholy, yet at the same time create a strong sense of power.