The Misunderstanding (La Mésentente)

To make the Theaters of Memory series, which includes The Misunderstanding, Dubuffet painted on individual sheets of paper, cut them up, and then combined them into chaotic, enigmatic compositions. In these works’ rapid shifts between subjects, settings, and imagery, Dubuffet sought to represent the jumble of mental activity involved in perception. He explained the effect he hoped to create, saying, “We must not confuse what the eye apprehends with what happens when the mind takes it in. . . . The mind totalizes; it recapitulates all of the fields; it makes them dance together. It stirs them together, it exchanges them, in it everything joins in movement. It transforms them too, it reworks them into its own guise.”