Artist: Jean Dubuffet (French, Le Havre 1901–1985 Paris)
Medium: Oil with sand and charcoal on canvas
Dimensions: 45 × 57 5/8 in. (114.3 × 146.4 cm)
Credit Line: Bequest of Florene M. Schoenborn, 1995
Accession Number: 1996.403.15
Rights and Reproduction: © 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
In 1923, after reading Hans Prinzhorn’s Artistry of the Mentally Ill (1922), in which the art of the mentally ill was first considered to have aesthetic value, Dubuffet became interested in pictures made by those without formal training—the uninitiated, the alienated, and especially the insane. In 1945, he started a collection of these pictures, which he called "art brut" (raw art). Emulating these works, Dubuffet intentionally adopted a crude style in Apartment Houses, Paris, which depicts pedestrians in the back alleys of Paris. Here, the street, sidewalks, and houses are stacked in rows, one above the other, without perspective, depth, or modeling.