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"Monument au Fantôme" by Jean Dubuffet in Downtown Houston

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"Monument au Fantôme" by Jean Dubuffet in downtown Houston

"Monument au Fantôme" by Jean Dubuffet in downtown Houston

Monument au Fantôme

This spectacular, eye-catching sculpture created by the artist Jean Dubuffet is known as Monument au Fantôme. In 1983, it was installed at 1100 Louisiana in downtown Houston. Since 2008, this arresting monumental sculpture has been relocated across from the George R. Brown Convention Center in Discovery Green Park.

Countless numbers of people are now able to view this impressive abstract piece of art on Avenida de las Americas. They cannot only see the abstract sculpture from the exterior but can also walk inside and experience it from many different angles.

Artist Jean Dubuffet

Jean Dubuffet was a prolific French painter and sculptural artist who died in Paris in the year 1985. He was 83 years old at the time.

This piece of sculptural art was completed in 1983. People living in the United States might have seen sculptures similar to this one in Chicago and New York. It was part of Dubuffet’s Hourloupe series. There are also similar types of sculptures located in Europe.

Seven different forms are represented in this particular piece of sculptural art. They include the following:

  • Tree
  • Mast
  • Dog
  • Chimney
  • Phantom
  • Hedge
  • Church

I know that the next time I walk around and through this figurative monument, I will try to identify the different abstract elements that Jean Dubuffet intended to represent.

Dimensions vary on this segmented fiberglass sculpture. The interior structure is composed of a framework of steel with a fiberglass overlay. The tallest piece is a lofty 33 feet in height. The primary colors of red and blue are painted along with outlines of black on the white background.

Art Brut

Jean Dubuffet founded an art movement. It is called Art Brut. Visionary art created by children or those in mental institutions represents this type of “outsider art.” Unrestrained doodling comes to mind. Some artists develop sculptures using sticks, stones, and bleached bones as an example. Architects have created fantastically shaped buildings fitting this description of Art Brut.

Dubuffet believed that formal art training often stifles creativity. His imaginary and fanciful art pieces are in many places around the world.

A work of art is only of interest, in my opinion, when it is an immediate and direct projection of what is happening in the depth of a person's being.. ..It is my belief that only in this Art Brut can we find the natural and normal processes of artistic creation in their pure and elementary state.

— Jean Dubuffet

Plaque near the sculpture

Plaque near the sculpture

Foundation by Jean Dubuffet

Jean Dubuffet set up his foundation organizing his archives. There are more than 2,500 artworks of all types represented. At present, the Dubuffet Foundation has two locations in France. One is in Périgny sur Yerres, and the other is in Paris.

The public can see a large representative sample of what he created throughout his life in those locations. Official reproductions of his work based on his models are made and licensed through the foundation. Loans of his artwork are also seen in traveling exhibitions. We are fortunate to have his Monument au Fantôme in Houston's Discovery Green Park.

Sculpture by Jean Dubuffet in Discovery Green Park

Sculpture by Jean Dubuffet in Discovery Green Park

Meaning of This Sculpture and Location

“Monument to the Phantom” is the meaning of "Monument au Fantôme." Do you see an imaginary phantom in this sculpture? Or do you see a curious tree, dog, or other formation?

The location where you can enjoy this Dubuffet sculpture: 1001 Avenida De Las Americas, Houston, Texas 77010.

What I expect from any work of art is that it surprises me, that it violates my customary valuations of things and offers me other, unexpected ones.

— Jean Dubuffet


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Peggy Woods