It’s Day 359 and it’s Christmas Day! Merry Christmas to you all. I had a great time doing today’s piece and now I have to cook a bunch of food for my husband, brother and myself and try to have a nice relaxing day. Please join me in honoring Paul Duhem today! I wanted to honor his style, but also honor today’s holiday. 🙂
Paul Duhem was born in Blandain, Belgium. He left school at 14 and worked as a farmhand for various agricultural concerns. During the Second World War he went to Germany, where he laid rails for the railways. Going to France at the end of the war, he was arrested for his collaboration with the Germans. But not being in full possession of all his faculties, he was transferred from prison to a psychiatric hospital before being employed as a labourer in farms in the region.
In 1977 he was admitted to a home where he did horticulture. Twelve years later, at the age of 70, Paul Duhem started to draw within the framework of a
workshop. He devoted himself to this activity, continuing until he died.
The human figure is a recurrent motif in his compositions. He drew the same face, which can be interpreted as a self-portrait, over and over again in an obsessive manner, declining it in series, introducing subtle variations in shape, rhythm and color.
Biography above is from Art Brut.com’s website.
of his life. Each morning after taking breakfast at a hospital for mental patients in southern Belgium, he brought out his crayons and jars of paint and crayons and, in the three or four hours before lunch, produced three new drawings. Then, in the hours between lunch time and dinner, he turned out three more works. Duhem’s subjects mostly took just two forms — a sad-eyed homme whom everybody understood to be Paul himself, and also the locked doors that he encountered everywhere in the mental institution.
Duhem was born in Blandain, a farming region. Because his parents were too poor to care for all their children, he was mostly
raised by grandparents. He attended school until his fourteenth year, and then left to work on a farm. Duhem was serving in the Belgium Army during World War II when, after being wounded and suffering shell shock, he was taken captive and held for two years in a German concentration camp.
Duhem finally resumed the life of a farmhand, but the war and prison years had taken a toll on his mentalstability. Diagnosed as schizophrenic, he was admitted to a mental institution in 1977. Because of his years as a farm worker, Duhem was given assignments as a gardener and groundskeeper at the institution.
In 1990, after beginning to show fragility of health, he was retired as a day worker. Soon after, he started producing colored drawings, at first turning out works with a variety of subjects, including birds, floral still-lifes and windmills, and then gradually limited his art to his own visage and the locked doors. He was 81 when he died in the summer of 1999.
Duhem’s work is widely admired art brut enthusiasts today, and is to be found
in nearly every significant museum collection of art brut in Europe. A large Paul Duhem museum show was presented in Brussels in 2001. The show then traveled to museums in France and The Netherlands.