What do you know about him? What does his art tell you? What is his story?
A young and handsome Frenchman, who was one of the most celebrated painters of the post-war period, a master whose work admired the whole Parisian cultural elite, Bernard Buffet made a colossal fortune by the age of 30, becoming the cult hero for almost every person in Europe in the 50s and therefore the biggest rival to the Spanish expatriate artist, a legendary Pablo Picasso. Along with Yves Saint Laurent, Brigitte Bardot, Roger Vadim and Francoise Sagan, Buffet was named ''France's Fabulous Young Five." Whether it was that crucial moment, when Picasso's children asked for Buffet's autograph, awakening his feelings of envy and threat, or not, but the Spaniard and his friends were powerful enough to turn overnight the whole European art establishment utterly against young Buffet.
Or maybe he was more of a disgrace and menace to society for the truth Buffet revealed in his work. A painter of the "miserables", Buffet created the most expressionist scenes using elongated, spiky forms, Giacometti style gothic figuration and black outlines. His harsh still lifes and sad clowns reflect the misery of early postwar Paris and its existential alienation. Behind the theatrical and cirquesque happiness, his figures hide an actual mood of spiritual solitude and despair, "the immense emptiness in which people tried to function". Nevertheless, Buffet was detested by French art critics for the rest of his artistic career. When he was no longer able to paint suffering from Parkinson's disease, Buffet committed suicide at the age of 71 putting his head in a plastic bag.
Is it a romantic story of someone who raised so high and then dashed so painfully low in his homeland, a story of a hero born in the wrong place at the wrong time, or just of man with a bunch of powerful enemies? Last night I came across Vladimir Nabokov's 1964 interview for Playboy Magazine, where he insists that the work of art has no importance whatever to society and it is only important to the individual...And I thought to myself I have been asked so many times but never given a straight and sincere answer, who is after all the most favourite for me...the answer emerged instantly...Bernarde...