Jean Dubuffet Lot 27
Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985)
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On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more Property of a Private New York Collection
Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985)

Rue de l’Entourloupe

Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985)
Rue de l’Entourloupe
signed and dated 'J. Dubuffet 63' (lower left); signed again, titled and dated again '24/2/63 Rue de l'Entourloupe J. Dubuffet' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
35 x 45 ¾ in. (89 x 116 cm.)
Painted in 1963.
Galerie Beyeler, Basel and Galerie Jeanne Bucher, Paris
Louise Reinhardt Smith, New York
Pace Gallery, New York
Dr. Milton D. Ratner, Chicago
Private collection, New York
Pace Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner
M. Loreau, Catalogue des travaux de Jean Dubuffet, Fascicule XX, L'Hourloupe I, Paris, 1966, p. 63, no. 125 (illustrated).
J. Canaday, "Art: Dubuffet's World of Hourloupe," New York Times, 8 January 1966 (illustrated).
A. Franzke, Jean Dubuffet, Basel, 1975, pp. 92 and 94, no. 69 (illustrated in color).
J. Dubuffet, Recent Work 1974-1976, exh. cat., New York, Pace Gallery, 1977, fig. 8 (illustrated).
M. Glimcher, Jean Dubuffet: Towards an Alternative Reality (1943-1974 and 1975-1984), New York, 1987, pp. 196-197 (illustrated in color).
J. Kříž, Jean Dubuffet, Prague, 1989, p. 98, no. 62 (illustrated in color).
M. Paquet, Dubuffet, Paris, 1993, p. 157, no. 217 (illustrated).
J. Delpierre, Jean Dubuffet, Paris, 2001, p. 37 (illustrated in color).
J. Lageira, Jean Dubuffet: Le Monde de l'Hourloupe, Paris, Centre Pompidou, 2001, n.p. (illustrated in color).
Venice, Palazzo Grassi, Centro Internazionale delle Arti e del Costume, L'Hourloupe di Jean Dubuffet, June-October 1964, no. 4 (illustrated).
Basel, Galerie Beyeler, Jean Dubuffet, February-April 1965, no. 58 (illustrated in color).
Zurich, Gimpel + Hanover Galerie, Jean Dubuffet, August-September 1965, no. 17.
New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Paris, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Jean Dubuffet: A Retrospective, April-December 1973, p. 151, no. 121 (illustrated).
University of Chicago, David and Alfred Smart Gallery and St. Louis, Washington University Gallery of Art, Jean Dubuffet: Forty Years of His Art, October 1984-March 1985, no. 65, pl. VI (illustrated in color).
New York, Wildenstein Gallery, Jean Dubuffet: a Retrospective, Works from 1943-1974, April-May 1987.
Paris, Centre Georges Pompidou, Jean Dubuffet- l'exposition du centenaire, September-December 2001, p. 246 (illustrated in color).
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Lot Essay

Jean Dubuffet’s 1963 painting Rue de l’Entourloupe is one of the first examples of work from a series of paintings and sculptures that would come to dominate much of the artist’s later career. The entire surface of this large-scale canvas is populated by a series of Dubuffet’s idiosyncratic characters; buildings, roads, and individual figures are melded together in Dubuffet’s naïve style abandoning forever what he regarded as the suffocating traditions of academic painting. Exhibited in a number of important retrospectives of the artist’s work, Rue de l’Entourloupe was included in his 1973 show at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York (which also traveled to the Grand Palais in Paris) and the 2001 exhibition at the Pompidou in Paris. This painting was orignally owned by Louise Reinhardt Smith, a renown collector of modern art and supporter of the Museum of Modern Art since the mid-1950s. She was described as one of the last strong-willed and independent collectors whose activities were indespensible to the museum at a time when there was much new ground to be broken. An important painting which would set the tone for the rest of the artist’s career, Rue de l’Entourloupe is a celebration of line, color and form that displays the remnants of the unorthodox tenets of art brut, whilst at the same time acting as a foretaste of the exciting world of the L’Hourloupe.

Rue de l’Entourloupe captures the vibrancy and energy of a bustling street scene as Dubuffet lays out the architecture of the street in a series of twisting lines which interact with passages of hastily applied color. Out of these motifs emerges a series of streets, buildings and people which populate the entire surface of the canvas. Twisting white lines become sidewalks and roads which meander between the buildings, stripes of blue and white become shop awnings protecting their displays from the heat of the midday sun and finally, dark spaces become doorways and windows populated by a collection of Dubuffet’s idiosyncratic figures. These wide-eyed figures—sometimes shown in profile and sometimes face-on—are the archetypal examples of the artist’s art brut style—naïve forms based on the unrestrained nature of children’s drawings. In arranging his composition, Dubuffet abandons the tradition rules of perspective and space, instead presenting each element in an even tableau with no-one element assuming priority over another. Packing every inch of the canvas with visceral painterly action, it is this omission of a hierarchy that helps Dubuffet’s paintings come alive with the dynamism of city life.

These figures are a precursor of those that would emerge in Dubuffet’s famed L’Hourloupe series. Prior to this, the artist had been working on a series of paintings which were known as his Paris Circus paintings—energetic depictions of the hustle and bustle of Parisian streets including cars, people, and shops. But with the present work the frenzied energy has subsided somewhat as the artist began to develop the individual figures into more coherent forms placed in a more ambiguous sense of space. The critic Peter Schjeldahl surmises, “Roughly, L’Hourloupe with its kudzu-like proliferation and sometimes environmental-sculptural formats departed from the stuttering succession of discrete worlds that had been the artist’s keynote. His project turned eccentrically social, tacitly conceiving the real world as a space to be colonized with Dubuffett, an unbounded theater and endless Happening” (P. Schjeldahl, “1942 and After: Jean Dubuffet in His Century” in J. Demetrion, Jean Dubuffet 1943-1963: Paintings Sculptures Assemblages, exh. cat., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Gardern, Washington, D.C., 1993, p. 18).

L’Hourloupes marked a distinct turn away from these previous works which were heavily influenced by the “outsider art” tenants of art brut, and rendered in a naturalistic palette of muted, earthen colors, and employed unorthodox materials such as cement, tar and plaster. “In all my works,” Dubuffet said, “there are two different winds that blow, one carrying me to exaggerate the marks of intervention, and the other, the opposite, which leads me to eliminate all human presence... and to drink from the source of this absence” (J. Dubuffet, quoted on Fondation Jean Dubuffet website, accessed at:
Yet the bright colors, lyrical patterns and strict linearity of the L’Hourloupes were still inspired by the art of the ordinary, untrained person, and aspired to explore everyday states of perception. The semi-subconscious aspect that was inherent to their creation was part of his conviction that art was able to express man’s natural state. He once stated: “[in L’Hourloupe] this consistently uniform script indifferently applied to all will thereby dissolve the categories which our mind habitually employs to decipher (better to say cipher) the facts and spectacles of the world. Herewith the circulation of the mind from one object to another, from one category to another will be liberated and its mobility greatly increased” (J. Dubuffet, quoted in Jean Dubuffet: Letter to Arnold Glimcher, 15 September 1969, reproduced in Jean Dubuffet: A Retrospective, exh. cat., Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1973, p. 26).

The figures embedded within Rue de l’Entourloupe begin to display the nascent forms that would ultimately populate this new territory. These bold, colorful figures represent the culmination of the artist’s painterly ambitions and are a far cry from primitive style work with which he began his career. Indeed they seem to become the physical manifestation of what Dubuffet was trying to achieve. Speaking in 1961, Dubuffet declared, “I feel a need that every work of art should in the highest degree lift one out of context, provoking a surprise and shock. A painting does not work for me if it is not totally unexpected. Hence my new concern, which gives me the satisfaction of being taken to territory where no else has been” (J. Dubuffet, “Statement on Paintings of 1961,” quoted by P. Selz, The Work of Jean Dubuffet, New York, 1962, p. 165).

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