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Tuesday, October 5, 1999 Published at 03:09 GMT 04:09 UK

World: Europe

French artist kills himself

By Stephen Jessel in Paris

One of France's best-known artists of the post-war period, the painter Bernard Buffet, has died at the age of 71.

[ image: Buffet poses next to his painting Sumo and Kaduki in 1988]
Buffet poses next to his painting Sumo and Kaduki in 1988
According to police, the painter, who had been suffering from Parkinson's Disease and had been unable to work for some years, took his own life by suffocating himself with a plastic bag.

President Jacques Chirac expressed "dismay and sadness" at the death of the man whom he described as "a very great painter of our time."

Bernard Buffet was known throughout the world for his paintings and engravings but he was not universally admired.

He was sometimes more honoured outside France, in particular in Japan where a museum is dedicated to his work, than in the land of his birth.

His angular style was instantly recognisable - geometric, with the paint thickly applied.

The subjects were widely varied - Parisian scenes, landscapes, the horrors of the war, the chateaux of the Loire and clowns, who had a particular fascination for him.

Left Bank

Buffet first exhibited in Paris in 1949 and six years later was named by a magazine as one of the 10 best painters of the post-war period.

His work was widely exhibited and he was associated with the cafe society of the Left Bank in Paris in its golden period in the 1950s and 1960s.

He had his devoted admirers in the French art world but his paintings were also criticised for being old-fashioned, unadventurous and repetitive.

In recent years he had suffered from Parkinson's Disease and had been unable to work.

He had warned friends of his intention to take his life. His body was found in his house in the southern French town of Tourtour where he lived with his wife.

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