Monument au Fantôme

The Monument au Fantôme sculpture in downtown Houston (Library of Congress photo)

The Monument au Fantôme sculpture in downtown Houston (Library of Congress photo)

For more than two decades, Jean Dubuffet’s sculpture, Monument au Fantôme, has sat among Houston’s downtown skyscrapers at 1100 Louisiana. In 2008 it was relocated to 1500 McKinney (Avenue de las Americas) in Discovery Green Park on the eastern edge of downtown. The tallest part of the fiberglass over steel frame stands 33 feet tall. Seven individual forms—chimney, church, dog, hedge, mast, phantom, and tree—included in the sculpture represent features of Houston. The Monument au Fantôme is part of the Hourloupe series, which includes sculpture by Dubuffet in Chicago, New York, and Europe.

Jean Dubuffet experimented with a series of doodles done with a ballpoint pen and using only black, blue, red, and white colors. He eventually adapted this style to his drawings, paintings, and sculptures. Works done using this method are known as the “L’Hourloupe Cycle.” He created Monument au Fantôme in 1977.

Jean Dubuffet was born in 1901 in La Harve, France. He was well-educated and followed the writings of Dr. Hans Prinzhorn, which compared the art of asylum patients and children’s artwork. Prinzhorn’s theory stated that savagery, or base animal instinct, led to universal harmony. He also believed that it was the primal instinct that connected all things. This philosophy had a strong influence on Dubuffet’s career.

Jean Dubuffet died in Paris in 1985, two years after Monument au Fantôme was placed at its first Houston location.

“Personally, I believe very much in values of savagery. I mean instinct, passion, mood, violence, madness.” ~ Jean Dubuffet
(Quote from theartstory.or/artist-dubuffet-jean.htm)

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