The Burning Life of the Earth (Vie ardente du sol)

Dubuffet worked on his Phenomena prints intensively from 1958 through 1962, creating 362 individual lithographs—including the three portfolios seen here. In making these works, Dubuffet broke from conventional technique. Rather than applying images to the printing plate with a brush, he made them by taking imprints on lithograph transfer paper of walls, stones, orange peels, and a friend’s back, among other objects; by exposing the printing plates to chemical reactions; and by inserting tiny objects during the production process. Though the artist gave each print an evocative title, the images are not simply illustrations of these subjects. Instead, Dubuffet imbued them with poetic associations.