French artist Bernard Buffet’s story is that of fame, rejection, and then celebration after death. When Buffet artwork came into the limelight, he was hailed as the artistic successor to Picasso, thanks to clown bernard buffet portraits. However, his celebrity status fell as fast as it rose. Buffet was publicly rejected and ridiculed by popular figures like the French minister of culture at that time, Picasso and the novelist Andre Malraux. He committed suicide at the age of 71 in 1999.
Today, Buffet’s work is undergoing a revival: one of his paintings was sold for over 1 million pounds some years ago, and a new Buffet biography was released in the US in 2016. The public has also started to show interest in this artist, leading to a Buffet exhibition at the Musee d’Art Moderne.
By the time Buffet’s art became known to the public, he had already developed a style that was different from other artists at the time. Though his paintings were likened to the works of Pablo Picasso, many of Buffet’s paintings were in a simplified form. His artworks employed bold, dark contours that perfectly indicated that he didn’t like abstraction.
Throughout his painting career, Buffet never deviated from his style. He had numerous themes, like naked men, women, landscapes and circus. The theme of the clown was one of Buffet’s favourite art themes. The Bernard Buffet clown theme greatly contributed to his worldwide fame. Most of these clowns, especially the sad ones, are, in fact, his self-portraits. They were a form of expressing his existential contradictions and deep anxieties. The prices of the clown collection rapidly rose to the top, promoting his quick success in art.
Apart from painting, Buffet mastered many other art forms: he was also an engraver, illustrator and lithographer. He also created theatre sets for plays like Jean Cocteau’s “La voix Humaine”.
Buffet’s art suffered a brief decline in popularity in the last decade of the twentieth century, attributed to his refusal to follow the abstract art trend. Another reason could be his luxurious lifestyle, supported by his profits as an artist, which seemed contradictory to the sombre feeling that his paintings evoke. Though the sales for Bernard buffet’s paintings may have plummeted at the time, his icon status was still intact.
Buffet earned the Office of Legion d’Honneur title in 1973, which is one of the top honours an artist can get in France. In the same year, a museum founded in his honour was opened outside Tokyo, Japan. The museum, established by Kiichiro Okano, a renowned collector of Buffet’s art, boasts more than 2,000 works by the artist. French art dealer Maurice Garnier also devoted his art gallery to only exhibit Buffet works from 1977.
After his death by suicide in 1999, Buffet has enjoyed increased popularity worldwide, with some of his arts reaching higher auction prices than before. In late 2016, Paris Musee dArte Moderne celebrated Buffet’s art career with a unique retrospective, and this was only months after his les Clown Musiciens, Le Saxophoniste painting sold for £1, 022, 5000. The same year, Nick Foulkes published his book “Bernard Buffet: The Invention of the Modern Mega-Artist”. The biography is one of the most comprehensive biographies of Bernard Buffet. All these are reminders that a reminder that Bernard Buffet’s art is still strong.