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Jean Dubuffet's fascination for the Sahara and its inhabitants began during his first trip to South Algeria in February 1947, while he was escaping the prospect of a winter in impoverished Paris. In the desert, Dubuffet deliberately immersed himself in the Bedouin culture, living with the tribesmen for several months in the isolation of the oases and learning Arabic.
These three works were amongst several he made both during his second visit to the desert and on his return to Paris. They are full of the immediacy of daily life in the desert, recalling the people and terrain around him. Deux Bédouins au désert in particular clearly shows the early signs of his experimentation with texture, which later became a hallmark of his oeuvre of the 1950s. Full of local colour, Dubuffet's preoccupation here is with the permanence of the desert, and the materiality of the sand.
Dubuffet'’s main aim in traveling deep into the Sahara was to find cultures entirely removed from Western civilisation that had adapted and evolved according to their own needs, thereby creating their own civilisation. Unlike the children and the insane who so influenced him, the attraction of these isolated cultures was that they had developed, but along their own lines. Hence, Dubuffet was exploring an uncorrupted culture that allowed him to view Western civilisation objectively and, in his art, to reject it wholeheartedly.