Bernard Buffet Overview (04:31)
Hear a news report of Buffet's suicide. Street artist C215 describes the painter's appeal. He influenced post-war art but many believed he was kitschy. Collector Dr. Maurice Girardin donated his works to the Paris Museum of Modern Art. (Credits)
Painting Prodigy (02:28)
Buffet turned 20 in 1948, representing existentialist youth. He attended the Ecole de Beaux-Arts and was considered precocious. His award winning work of naked men shocked the public with its subject matter and existentialist style. Throughout his career, he advocated humanism.
Berge Collection (05:14)
Pierre Berge hangs his Buffet paintings and speaks about his lover. They stayed with Jean Giono in Provence in 1950; Sylvie Giono recalls her father's guests. In an archival interview, Jean Giono describes his attraction to a rose painting.
Horrors of War Series (02:57)
Buffet and Berge moved to a farm in the Alps; Berge describes Buffet's working style. In 1954, he worked on monumental paintings of death inspired by European Masters.
Circus Series (03:59)
In 1955, Buffet was named best painter of his generation. Dealers Maurice Garnier and Emmanuel David opened a Paris gallery. They hold annual exhibitions in February; curator Dominique Gagneux discusses works depicting the circus' tragic side that brought Buffet popular success.
Buffet Mania (04:15)
View footage of a news report on Buffet's 1958 retrospective. At 30, the painter became an icon; fame initially served him well but an article depicting his wealthy lifestyle branded him for life. Berge defends his character in a 1958 interview.
Marriage to Annabel (03:47)
Art critics never forgave Buffet's celebrity. Berge left Buffet for Yves Saint Laurent; Buffet went to St. Tropez. Nicolas Buffet returns to the neighborhood where his parents were introduced by photographer Luc Fournol in 1958.
Annabel Series and Falling from Grace (05:14)
Buffet's wife became his muse; Lydia Harambourg discusses their bullfighting paintings. They lived in Provence and Buffet returned to religious inspiration, but France had entered the abstract era. Buffet rejected abstraction and tried to regain recognition as a figurative painter.
Branding as an Artistic Strategy (03:03)
Abstract culture was intellectual and elitist; Buffet gave the public an immediate understanding of his paintings. He remained commercially successful and his works were the first to be marketed as derivative products.
La Baume (04:10)
In the 1970s, Buffet withdrew from public life. He purchased a Provence property in 1986; Nicholas recalls his parents' happiness and his father's painting routine. View footage of Buffet at work.
Bernard Buffet Museum (03:19)
Buffet vanished from the European art world, but became popular in Japan in the 1970s. Near Mt. Fuji, collector Kiichiro Okano founded a museum directed by his son Mitsuyoshi. Overwhelmed, Buffet sent Annabel to attend the 1974 opening.
Regaining French Favor (03:30)
After Japan, a new generation in Germany viewed Buffet's paintings through a fresh perspective. His work will be displayed as part of a pop art series, his first French retrospective in 50 years. C215 discusses his signature embedded in works.
Final Series (05:47)
Buffet was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 1997. Nicholas filmed him working on skeletons dressed in period costumes as his health declined. He committed suicide in 1999; his ashes were scattered in the garden of his museum in Japan.
Credits: Bernard Buffet, The Great Agitator (00:33)
Credits: Bernard Buffet, The Great Agitator
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