Jean Dubuffet (1901–1985) was never a typographer, so the title of this book looks, at first glance, like a deliberate provocation. While Dubuffet's work is now canonized and its critical power of evocation seems to have been put to one side, for Pierre Leguillon that evocativeness literally represents a pretext: a pretext for a consideration of the outlook for writing as the digital age increasingly delegitimizes writing by hand. Delving into various public and private archives, including those at the Dubuffet Foundation in Paris, the Kandinsky Library at the Pompidou Centre and the IMEC in Caen, Leguillon collected and photographed a wide variety of ephemera, ranging from catalogs, artists' books, notebooks and language notebooks to posters, invitations and even record sleeves. He then rearranged the resulting images to produce a kind of anti-manual of typography, in which various subjects, vocabularies, styles and codes are grouped together into ad hoc “families” following one after another. The constellation of typographic frolics in Dubuffet's work might amount to a form of deliberate "marketing strategy" – his signature or brand, as it were. But that strategy turns out to be duplicitous. Making use of the gamut of possibilities offered by reproduction techniques (linocut, lithography, offset printing etc.), Dubuffet does not appear here as a calligrapher (a technique that presupposes the uniqueness of the signs produced), for the writing almost invariably involves duplication. And, in Dubuffet's struggle, from the 1950s on, against culture, or for "anti-culture", his efforts to undermine typographic type and standardized principles of layout can be regarded as the culmination, on the visual level, of his painstaking enterprise to sabotage language.
This publication formed part of Pierre Leguillon's project for the 2013 Carnegie International on Jean Dubuffet
Graphic design by Stéphane De Groef and Pierre Leguillon
Published in 2013
In French and English
15.2 x 21 cm