Bernard Buffet 1928-1999


Bernard Buffet was a 20th-century French Expressionist artist and a member of L’Homme-Temoin, an anti-abstract group. Bernard Buffet was a prolific artist, whose work included over 8,000 paintings, along with a number of prints and lithographs. 

Buffet was born in 1928 in Paris. He studied art at the National School of Fine Arts, where he was classmates with Louis Vuillermoz and Maurice Boitel while working at the studio of the painter Eugene Narbonne. It was while he was attending school that Buffet met Marie-Therese Auffray, the French painter, who became a major influence for the young painter. The art dealer Maurice Garnier was a supporter and patron for the young artist. During this time he produced a number of landscapes, portraits, still-lifes, and religious pieces. The first Buffet painting to be shown was a self-portrait in 1946. From that time forward there was at least one major Bernard Buffet Paris exhibitionevery year.

The art world’s interest and acclaim for Buffet was quite high in the 1950s and early 1960s. In 1952, he illustrated Comte de Lautreamont’s “Les Chants de Malodor,” The magazine Connaissance des Arts awarded him first place in their list of the ten best post-war artists in 1955. The Galerie Charpentier held the first retrospective of his work in 1958; at the time Buffet was only 30 years old. In 1961,Bernard Buffet produced a series of paintings depicting the life of Jesus Christ for a Parisian Chapel. At the request of Pope Paul VI, the paintings were offered to the Vatican Museum. The paintings remain as part of a permanent exhibition at the Museum.

During the height of his popularity, Buffet’s clown paintings, which were known for their iconic elongated and sorrowful faces, proved to be among the artist’s most popular. By the end of the 1960s, Buffet’s popularity and acclaim in the art world began to fade, mostly due to the move away from figurative painting by art critics and the influencers of the time. However, this did not deter Buffet from pursuing his work. Kiichiro Okano founded the Bernard Buffet Museum in Japan in 1973; a major expansion to the museum occurred in 1988. In 1978, France commissioned the artist to design a stamp depicting the Institut et le Pont des Arts; on this occasion, a retrospective was held at Post Museum.

In 1999, evidently because of his inability to work due to suffering from Parkinson’s disease, Buffet committed suicide at his home in southern France. 

During the first part of the 2000s, interest in Buffet’s works experienced something of a revival, with some of Buffet’s most valuable paintings finding their way to the market. It was notable that Bernard Buffet’s iconic clown paintings were very scarce and few were offered.

Bernard Buffet’s art is very valuable, and Bailly Gallery is pleased to offer original Bernard Buffet’s paintings for sale. The gallery will gladly arrange appointments as well as welcome interested collectors to the gallery to view the works available. Contact the gallery to arrange an appointment or for more information.


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