Although there are few earlier examples oil paintings by Lucebert, it wasn't until 1957 that he started using this medium. His production before 1957 was dominated by works on paper, whether this was writing poetry or producing smaller art works in ink, watercolour or gouache. One of the main reasons for working as a draughtsman more than a painter in the first half of his career was an economical one: Lucebert could simple not afford expensive materials like oil paint and canvas. When in the late 1950's he sold some works, his move seems logical and completely natural: In an interview in 1992 Lucebert stated that he saw his works on paper from earlier in his career as preparation to this new phase: ' By experimenting, searching and following styles, I had found my own handwriting. Only then was I ready to attack the medium of oil on canvas. I knew what I wanted' (Jens Christian Jensen. Lucebert Schilder, Nijmegen 2001, p. 33)
Although the quality of the works from 1957 onwards is from the beginning very strong the period of 1960-1663 is considered to be the highlight in his career. Jens Christian Jensen calls it: De tijd van het meesterschap -The period of the Mastery (Jensen op cit p. 103) For the first time Lucebert sees his aspiration in visual arts equal to his literary ambition. It is in this period, that the dialogue between the two disciplines, poetry and painting, is the strongest.
Compositionally Lucebert's figures from this period are harmonious and well balanced, however their appearance is loud, passionate, tempestuous, ironical and intense. The title Living doll suggest a sweet and friendly subject matter, visually the painting is experienced completely different: The sharp teeth and direct eyes show an aggressive little creature. A similar contradictio, can be seen in the working process of the painting. The spontaneity and intuition of the Cobra language seem to conflict with the working method of thorough consideration. The painting is not made in one single creative moment, but is the result of a slow process of many intensive sessions of working and reworking the canvas. The paint is applied, carved, dripped, smeared, brushed, drawn and written, giving it a very contrasting character. In places it was a sculpted as well as a glazed texture, similar to the Art Brut of Jean Dubuffet.
The strength of the work is the balance that Lucebert achieves between all his inner conflicts within painting, whether this is the dialogue between poetry and visual arts, the conflict between spontaneity and consideration, and the interaction between the visual elements. Ten years after CoBrA Lucebert adds another chapter to the form language of this group of artists, with The living doll one of the highlights.