Podcast #8 C’est Francais! Jacques-Louis David and Jean Dubuffet

Oath of Horatii

Oath of Horatii

Bonjour!  Welcome to the next Masters and Mod Pod cast where we feature two French artists! One, Mssr. Jacques-Louis David and our Modern, Jean Dubuffet.  Two very different artists, yet what might they have in common (besides being French)?!

It is 1784, there is considerable unrest in the streets of Paris and France.  People are starving, France is broke, yet the aristocracy are living more decadently than ever.

His influences are Caravaggio (and you will find that many artists claim they were influenced by Caravaggio),

It was his painting, the Oath of the Horatii, HO-RAH-TEE-EYE which created a lot of talk (in historical talk, they say “a sensation”) and became the turning point from the art of the aristocracy to the art of “republic”.  The painting spoke to the people.  And this was the few years before the revolution.  If you need a reference, think of what is happening today in Egypt.  That’s a revolution!  They are calling it the Arab Spring, and now maybe this is an Arab summer, but if you look at how the French revolution unfolded, and look at the events today…

He creates three more paintings that epitomize the cause, using classical references.

Anyway, the arc of David’s career is interesting, because he is so tied into the revolution and eventually Robespierre, that he becomes what they call an art dictator – which is not really what one wants in the art world – and that earns him the nickname the “Robespierre of the brush”.

The artwork he creates is very much along the lines of Ancient Rome and equating it to the new France.

Finally, he creates what is his masterpiece, the Death of Marat.


The Death of Marat, 1793, is an idealized image of David’s slain friend  shown holding his murderess’s (Charlotte Corday) letter of introduction.

The bloodied knife lays on the floor having opened a fatal gash that functions, as does Marat’s very composition, as a reference to the entombment of Christ (reference to the wounds Christ is said to have received in his hands, feet and side while on the cross).

Moving on, Teresa and Suzanne then introduce the modern for today’s podcast, Jean Dubuffet.



A French Avant-garde painter.  Avant-garde is considered experimental or innovative. There are many sub categories such as Abstract expressionism, COBRA, cubism, Primitivism, his was art-brut (raw art) although he did not like to be categorized.0709170078

Derived from Dubuffet’s studies of the art of children and of the mentally ill, art brut is intended to achieve immediacy and vitality of expression not found in self-conscious, academic art. To reflect these qualities, Dubuffet often used crude ideographic images incised into a rough impasto surface made up of such materials as tar, gravel, cinders, ashes, and sand bound with varnish and glue. His drawings and paintings are by turns childlike and obsessive, and their unfinished appearance excited much controversy.

He has a very strong stance on what art is or what it should be, and he writes a lot about it.

Would you say that he is relevant today?

Listen to today’s podcast and send us your comments!  You can email us at: