"All of this is unforgettable and among the best moments in life": The correspondence of Jean Dubuffet and Sibille Boffard

Dubuffet, Jean, French painter (1901-1985). 7 autograph letters signed, 4 letters signed, 13 autograph notes, one of which signed, and 5 autograph receipts.

Paris, Vence, El Goléa (El Meniaa, Algeria), and no place, 1948-1960.

Various formats. Altogether ca. 23 pp. on 32 ff. Together with 2 postcards by Lili Dubuffet, 1 letter by Alexandre Vialatte, a facsimile postcard by Jean Dubuffet, the reproduction of a group photograph with Dubuffet and Sibille Boffard, a poster for a 1950 exhibition at Galerie Nina Daucet, a short text on the relationship between Dubuffet and Boffard, and other documents. In French.


Correspondence with his neighbour in Paris, informal assistant, and close friend Sibille Boffard. Most letters are charming documents of the friendship, including the earliest two letters from Dubuffet's 1948 stay in El Meniaa (El Golea), Algeria. On 23 January he sends greetings to Boffard and mutual friends including the writer Alexandre Vialatte and complains about the weather: "Who expects to find heat here is terribly mistaken. One lives wrapped in the wide and heavy burnous that deprives you of the usage of the hands and the hood makes it impossible to see and to move the head". The second letter from 22 April is no less skeptical: "Travelling is like hunting marsh birds - long, tedious times, inconvenience and annoyance - occasionally rewarded with a good catch. Travelling to countries that are very uncomfortable for the body and the mind has this advantage over others that they make the return more enjoyable. We have been waiting for several days for a car that removes us from this place in the desert [...]". In a letter from 15 May 1949, Dubuffet contemplates the institution of "two kinds of marriage", one that is easily dissolved and one "for the venturers" that is inseparable, and invites Boffard for cake. In an undated letter, he thanks her enthusiastically for a party, underlining that it "has been a long time since I had been so highly amused". Two letters, one of which is dated 13 July 1955, the other undated, of a personal nature strike a darker note. In the dated letter from Vence, Dubuffet first thanks Boffard for sending him yearbooks that he uses to clean his brushes. He then mentions that she has been "severely tested" by life, wishing her well and discusses his wife's depression that renders the atmosphere in the house "often sombre". In the second letter, also to thank Boffard for yearbooks, Dubuffet writes about a severe case of lumbago that keeps him from work.

Two undated letters probably from the late 40s contain work-related instructions for Boffard. In a typed letter, Dubuffet instructs her to varnish a glass pane in his workshop, to convey two drawings of hippos from his "Collection de l'art brut" to a photographer, and to gather information concerning possibilities for the reproduction of a drawing of Slavko Kopac, the longtime curator of the Art brut collection. The second letter with instructions is truly remarkable, as Dubuffet had sent art supplies to Boffard to be distributed to the outsider artists Georges Berthomier (1897-1963) and Fernand Costa in the psychiatric hospital of Ville-Évrard. Dubuffet added a sketch of the hospital, indicating the pavilion of Juliette Élisa Bataille and enclosing a list of several patients with details concerning their interest in artistic work. He also asks Boffard to meet a Madame Sée in order to establish contact with a Swedish psychiatrist. Dubuffet's famous and groundbreaking Art brut exhibition was held in October 1949 at the Galerie René Drouin. The enclosed facsimile postcard was Boffard’s invitation to the opening.

The final three letters concern works by Dubuffet in Boffard’s possession. In an undated letter, he asks her to lend him a "small gray gouache" of his for an exhibition at the gallery of René Drouin, possibly the Art brut exhibition. This is possibly the same gouache that Dubuffet discusses in a long typed letter from 15 April 1960. There he bitterly complains to Boffard, as she "refuses to help him with the research" on the gouache that had apparently changed ownership in the meantime. Dubuffet explains to her that it is normal and beneficial for a collector to participate in the preparation of an artist's catalogue raisonné. In the final letter from 22 April 1960, Dubuffet thanks Boffard for her response, explaining that he is convinced that the new owner, a Mrs de Gavardy, will permit photographs to be taken.

Ten notes are instructions for Sibille Boffard or indicate the names of businesses, including a frame maker and a bookbinder, with which she had to deal for him. Three notes contain short aphorisms on love: "On est toujours soûlé quand on est amoureux".

Well preserved overall. Several notes and letters with instructions crossed out by Sibille Boffard. Some browning, occasional minor tears, particularly to the notes and receipts.

Stock Code: BN#54486 Tag: