Préfète Duffaut was born in Jacmel, January 1, 1923. As a child he helped his father build sailboats used for Haitian coastal traffic. He began to draw on his own several months after the opening of the Centre d'Art in Port-au-Prince in 1944
A taciturn, introverted youth, Duffaut lived through an unhappy childhood ruled by an incompetent mother, with drawing as his only expressive outlet. He recounted that the Virgin Mary appeared to him in a dream at La Gonave Island, leading him to produce an ornamental sculpture for the chapel dedicated to her. A poet and mystic, he might be said to be a painter of dreams depicting his hopes and beliefs, as exemplified by his famous painting Virgin on the Mountain Top.
Rigaud Benoit and a group of artists went to Jacmel to look for new talent and found Duffaut .
During the night he had a dream: the Virgin appeared to him with outstretched hands perched on the summit of a mountain and she told him to paint his city Jacmel.
Duffaut joined the Art Center in 1948. In 1951, he painted a mural at the Holy Trinity Cathedral.
Duffaut strives to reconstruct a frantic reality: winding vertical streets and delicate and colorful houses constructed at the turn of the century that characterize Jacmel. Not leaving anything to chance, he writes on his painting the names of the buildings: school, customs, police, and hospital. The effect is striking. His innate sense of composition, genius of colors and pictorial clumsiness make his first works masterpieces of naive art.
As André Derain says: -a true naive painting knocks you off your feet.- And to quote Anatole Jakowsky : -You don't become naive, you are born a naive painter or you will never be one. It's a gift like any other and it doesn't count on profession, age or sex...- In general the works of naives don't reflect the painter himself; which proves one more time that everything comes from elsewhere...
An essentially naive painter, Duffaut started out doing highly precise paintings of his hometown. He then shifted toward a style at times sophisticated, at times fantastic, depending on the painting, allowing his unbridled imagination to tinker with the laws of gravity. He is world renowned for his mountainous landscapes with serpentine roads and his crowded street scenes.
Duffaut has evolved over the years ; his imagination is fed by new realities ; his technique is confirmed : symmetry and linear and color perspective push him towards new heights. In his satellite cities, cities pushing to hell or climbing to heaven,
Science fiction or simply the mocking smile of a shrewd countryman? Duffaut knows that luck is on his side. Préfète Duffaut in Creole means born prematurely and on top of that he was born coiffé, with the placenta on his head, and in Haiti that means one of the gods' elect.
1974 - Flagg Tanning Corp., Milwaukee Art Center, Wisconsin
1978-1979 - Haitian Art - Brooklyn Museum, New York, Milwaukee Art Center, Wisconsin, Kunst aus Haiti, Berlin, Germany, New Orleans Museum of Art, Louisiana
1982 - International Art Expo, New York, NY
1982 - Allentown Art Museum, Allentown, Pennsylvania
1983 - Musee International d'Art Naif, Nice, France
1988 - Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris, France
1990 - Exposition du Palais du Rhin, Strasborg, France
1990 - Mme. Mitterand, group show and auction, Paris, France
1992 - La Peinture Haitienne a La Rencontre de l'Image d'Epinal, France.
1992 - La Rencontre Des Deux Mondes Vue Par Les Peintres D'Haiti - Martinique, Seville, Rome, Paris, Nantes, Angouleme, Laval, Toulouse, Japan, Montreal, United States, Mexico
1997 - Selected to represent Haiti at the United Nations Building in New York for a group show.
Books and Catalogues
1965 - The Miracle of Haitian Art, p. 8, 55, 73-75, 87
1974 - The Naive Tradition: Haiti, pp. 30-32
1978 - Haitian Art, pp. 85-86, 99, 103, 138
1978 - Kunst aus Haiti, pp. 108, 117, 125, 149, 194
1982 - Art Expo: New York, p. 213
1982 - Three Generations of Haitian Art, (Cat. #13, 14)
1983 - Peinture Haitienne, pp. 24-25
1983 - Le Paradis Et Les Naifs, p. 44
1986 - La Peinture Haitienne, pp. 110-111
1986 - Voyage Au Pays Des Naifs, pp. 166-167, 169
1988 - HAITI Art Naif - Art Vaudou, 202-209
1988 - Where Art is Joy, pp. 45, 69, 86, 108-110, 128, 171, 174-175
1990 - Dialogue du Reel et de l'Imaginaire, pp. 19, 29
1992 - L'Art Haitien a la Rencontre de l'Image d'Epinal
1992 - La Rencontre des Deux Mondes Vue Par Les Peintres D'Haiti, pp. 260-261
1997 - Catalog of United Nations.
Milwaukee Art Center
Musee d'Art Naif de Max Fourny, Paris, France