Jean Dubuffet, the French painter and sculptor who saw his art as a celebration of the primitive, died Sunday in Paris of emphysema. He was 83.

Considered by many as the most important artist to emerge from France at the end of World War II, Mr. Dubuffet focused his work in recent years on paintings, drawings and giant abstract forms that exhibited a childlike simplicity.

Among these are a 42-foot-high sculpture entitled "Group of Four Trees," commissioned for the Chase Manhattan Plaza in 1972 by David Rockefeller to celebrate his 25th anniversary on Wall Street, and the 29-foot-tall "Monument With Standing Beast" installed last year at the new State of Illinois Building in Chicago.

Mr. Dubuffet reveled in simplicity and believed that the untrained vision is the unhampered vision.

" Art should . . . be stripped of all the tinsel, laurels and buskins . . . and be seen naked with all the creases of its belly," he once said in an interview. "Once disencumbered, it will doubtless begin again to . . . dance and yell like a madman, which is its function, and stop putting on preposterous airs from its professor's chair."

Born in Le Havre July 31, 1901, to a wine and liquor merchant and his wife, Mr. Dubuffet spent the first half of his life alternating between the world of art and that of commerce.

He left home at 17 to paint in Paris, and, living alone in miserable quarters in the Montparnasse section of the city, he spent much of his time studying the classics, music and languages. He also studied briefly at the Academie Julian.

Convinced that his work was merely imitating that of his friends Raoul Dufy and Fernand Leger, he stopped painting in his early twenties and traveled to Italy and Brazil. In 1925, he returned to Le Havre to study commerce, and five years later opened a wholesale wine business in Paris.

In 1933, he put an associate in charge of the wine business and moved to cheap lodgings on the Left Bank, where he entertained artists extensively.

Mr. Dubuffet reassumed control of the then-failing business in 1937 and ran it until 1939, when World War II began. He served briefly in the Army, then opened another wine business but abandoned it in 1942, the year most critics consider the beginning of his art career.

He experimented widely in his painting, and his first exhibition in Paris was in 1944, followed three years later by a show in New York. In the late 1940s, Mr. Dubuffet traveled widely in North Africa.

At the time of his first retrospective at New York's Museum of Modern Art in 1962, art critic Clement Greenberg called Mr. Dubuffet "the most original painter to have come out of the School of Paris since Miro."

Many of Mr. Dubuffet's recent works have sparked controversy, perhaps most notably a creation that was to be the artist's largest: a 120-by-180-foot plastic-and-concrete park for the courtyard of the French-owned Renault automobile company.

When it was half-built, the company ran out of funds for it and stopped work in 1975. Mr. Dubuffet, who considered the work the biggest monumental sculpture since the Eiffel Tower, called the move an "outrage."

A four-year court battle ensued, during which the work was buried to save it from destruction. In 1981 a court ordered the company to dig it up and allow Mr. Dubuffet to finish it.

Arthur B. McCaw, 79, a former administrator with the Agency for International Development, White House aide and Agriculture Department official, died of cardiac arrest May 11 at a hospital in Kissimee, Fla. He had lived in Poinciana, Fla., since retiring from the Agriculture Department in 1978.

Mr. McCaw came to Washington in 1956 as an administrator in the foreign assistance program and he joined AID when it was organized in 1961. During the Johnson Administration, he became a White House adviser on matters of economic stabilization for the Dominican Republic. He later was a budget and financial officer for a White House committee on civil rights.

He returned to AID in 1968 where he became special assistant to the administrator for African programs. In 1969, he became deputy administrator for food and nutritional services for the Agriculture Department.

Mr. McCaw was born in Fort Leavenworth, Kan. He received bachelor's and law degrees at the University of Omaha. Before moving to Washington he was budget officer for the state of Nebraska and former president of the NAACP in Omaha.

Survivors include his wife, Valaria, of Poinciana; a son, Melvin A., of Washington; two daughters, Janis E. M. Johnson of Edgewood, Md., and Valaria M. Lincoln of Los Angeles; a brother, Herbert L. McCaw of Uniondale, N.Y.; two sisters, Bernice McCaw and Lucille Gatewood, both of Los Angeles; five grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

Paul L. Kelley, 79, a former aide to Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson who worked for Vinson when he was a Kentucky congressman, secretary of the Treasury and at the Supreme Court, died May 9 at a hospital in Deerfield Beach, Fla., after a heart attack.

Mr. Kelley, a native of Ashland, Ky., came to Washington as Vinson's administrative assistant in the House of Representatives in 1935. He remained here after Vinson died in 1953 as administrative assistant to Rep. John Watts (D-Ky.) Mr. Kelley retired in 1964 and moved to Florida in 1966.

During his career in Washington, Mr. Kelley also had worked for Vinson at the old War Production Board, the Office of Economic Stabilization, the Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion and as Vinson's assistant on the U.S. Court of Appeals here. During this period, Mr. Kelley also earned a law degree at Southeastern University.

When Vinson was appointed Chief Justice of the United States in 1946, Mr. Kelley became his executive assistant, filling a position created specifically for him by Congress.

He is survived by his wife, Thelma, of Deerfield Beach; two daughters, Margaret Cohan, of Chapel Hill, N.C., and Rosemary Silling, of Salisbury, Md.; a brother, Raymond, of Middletown, Ohio; a sister, Margaret Stephens, of Washington; eight grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

Theodore Roosevelt Hill, 57, a retired assistant chief of the mail and messenger branch of the Department of Transportation, died of cancer May 2 at a hospital in Danville, Va. He lived in Yanceyville, N.C.

Mr. Hill was born in Yanceyville. He grew up in Washington and graduated from Armstrong High School. He attended Howard and Georgetown universities.

During World War II, he served in the Navy in the Pacific. He transferred to the Air Force in 1947.

The following year, he became a civilian employe of the Coast Guard, which became part of the Transportation Department in 1966. He retired in 1982 and moved to North Carolina.

Survivors include his wife, Annie F. Hill of Yanceyville; a daughter, Brenda K., of Washington, and two sisters, Elizabeth Frasier of Durham, N.C., and Wilma H. Wright of Washington. John E. Frere, 64, the supervisor of assessments for the Charles County government since 1974 and the founding president of the Bel Alton Volunteer Fire Department, died May 2 at his home in Bel Alton, Md., after a heart attack.

He was born in Thompkinsville, Md. Mr. Frere attended Southeastern University and joined the FBI in 1939. During World War II, he served in the Army in Europe.

After the war, he returned to the FBI. He later worked for the old Lyon Buick dealership in La Plata. During the early 1960s, he became a vice president and manager of the La Plata branch of what became Maryland National Bank. He was employed by the Howard Bowie Real Estate Co. in La Plata before joining the Charles County government.

Mr. Frere was a member of the Knights of Columbus, where he was a past district deputy of the Southern Maryland Region.

He was a past president of the Charles County Democratic Club, the Southern Maryland Firemen's Association and the Charles County Fireman's Association. He also was a member of the Charles County Economic Development Commission, the American Legion, and St. Ignatius Church at Chapel Point, Md., where he served on the parish council.

Survivors include his wife, Mary Jane Frere of Bel Alton; two sons, John E. Jr., of Chicago, and Joseph D., of Bel Alton; a daughter, Judy Dement of Waldorf; two sisters, Marie Martin of La Plata, and Marion Frere of Washington; six brothers, William and Edward, of Thompkinsville, Phillip and Richard, of Bel Alton, and Barry and James, of Camp Springs, and nine grandchildren.