Bernard Buffet

Born 1928
Hometown Paris, France

ARTAX, Düsseldorf, Germany

Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, Florida

Ca la Ghironda, Bologna, Italy

Kunstmuseum Walter, Augsburg, Germany

Musée d´art moderne de Lille, Villeneuve d´Ascq, France

Museum of Contemporary Art, Skopje

National Gallery for Foreign Art, Sofia, Bulgaria

National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Canada

National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, Japan

Tampere Art Museum, Tampere, Finland

Tate Gallery, London, England

Wellside Gallery, Seoul, South Korea

Bernard Buffet was born in Paris, France and studied at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaus-Arts. Over the course of his career, Buffet produced over 8,000 paintings featuring landscapes, portraits, and still lifes, often with religious themes, in a distinctively stark, somber graphic style. He also experimented with lithography, sculpture, and engraving, as well as designed stage sets for the Paris Opera’s ballet, in addition to working on a number of book illustration projects, including Jean Cocteau’s La Voix Humaine.


As a student, Buffet worked in the studio of painter Eugène Narbonne. He showed his first painting, a self-portrait, in 1946 at the Galerie Beaux-Arts’s Salon des Moins de Trente Ans. His first solo exhibition followed in December of the following year at the Art Impressions bookstore in Paris. Beginning in 1949, Buffet held annual exhibitions, which, from 1952 on, were organized around a central theme. He earned the designation of "Miserablist" and comparisons to Gruber and Francois Rouault with his "Horror of War" and "Hanged Men" themed exhibitions, which exemplify his works’ depictions of brutality and torment.


In 1952, Buffet illustrated Comte de Lautréamont’s Les Chants de Maldoror, a long narrative prose poem now considered one of the foremost examples of Surrealist writing. Buffet was awarded first prize among the “10 best post-war artists” by the art magazine Connaissance des arts in 1955.


Religious themes run throughout Buffet’s work. In 1961, the artist painted a series depicting the life of Christ, which was originally made for the Chapelle de Chateau l’Arc. The series was eventually requested for the collection of the Vatican Museum by Monseigneur Pasquale Macci, secretary to Pope Paul VI.


Buffet was stricken by Parkinson’s disease in his later life. No longer able to work, he committed suicide at his home in Tourtour, France on October 4, 1999.

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