Dubuffet's return to painting was accompanied by a passion for primitive and naive art forms, as well as for paintings made by the psychologically disturbed. By 1945 he had started to collect so called 'ugly art' or Art Brut, and in 1948 he founded a society to promote this type of work. He also wrote some important statements, criticizing the cultural aims of post-Renaissance Western art, in the place of which he advocated the more spontaneous, non-verbal, and spiritually potent qualities of primitive cultural expression. This resulted in a totemic approach to image making which revealed itself in his first exhibition, where city life and images of men and women were presented with an aggressively simple and childish vigor. These paintings looked more like graffiti covered walls or tribal emblems than conventional oil paint.
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