JEAN DUBUFFET (1901-1985)
JEAN DUBUFFET (1901-1985)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more 20TH CENTURY MODERN MASTERS FROM A PRIVATE FRENCH COLLECTION
JEAN DUBUFFET (1901-1985)

Paysage du Pas-de-Calais III (Landscape of Pas-de-Calais III)

JEAN DUBUFFET (1901-1985)
Paysage du Pas-de-Calais III (Landscape of Pas-de-Calais III)
signed and dated 'J. Dubuffet 63' (lower right); signed, titled and dated ‘Paysage du Pas de Calais III J. Dubuffet août 63’ (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
64 x 102in. (162.6 x 259.2cm.)
Painted on 27 August 1963
Galerie Jeanne Bucher, Paris.
Galerie Beyeler, Basel.
Saidenberg Gallery, New York.
Private Collection, New York.
Anon. sale, Sotheby’s New York, 2 May 1974, lot 289.
Marisa del Re Gallery, New York.
Anon. sale, Christie's New York, 11 November 1982, lot 129A.
Private Collection, Paris.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1991.
M. Loreau (ed.), Catalogue des travaux de Jean Dubuffet, Fascicule XX: L'Hourloupe I, Paris 1966, pp. 200 and 205, no. 171 (illustrated, p. 93).
M. Loreau, Jean Dubuffet: Délits, Déportements, Lieux de Haut Jeu, Lausanne 1971, p. 441.
J. Kříž, Jean Dubuffet, Prague 1989, no. 64 (illustrated in colour, p. 101).
Venice, Palazzo Grassi, Centro Internazionale delle Arti e del Costume, L’Hourloupe di Jean Dubuffet, 1964, no. 27.
Basel, Galerie Beyeler, Jean Dubuffet, 1965, no. 57 (illustrated in colour, unpaged).
New York, Saidenberg Gallery, L’Hourloupe, 1966.
Paris, Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, Passions Privées: Collections particulières d'art moderne et contemporain en France, 1995-1996, p. 410, no. 3 (illustrated, p. 412).
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Lot Essay

Held in the same collection for almost four decades, Paysage du Pas-de-Calais III (Landscape of Pas-de-Calais III) is one of three monumental paintings by the same title that Jean Dubuffet executed in August 1963. Depicting near-abstract rural scenery in explosive, electrically-coloured compositions over 2.5 metres wide, these majestic canvases occupy pivotal territory in Dubuffet’s practice. They mark the end of his famous Paris Circus series, with its pulsing metropolitan energy, and herald the beginning of his radical Hourloupe cycle, characterised by looping, hatched jigsaws of colour and line. In Paysage du Pas-de-Calais III he lights up the countryside in a crazy-paved expanse of blues, greens, yellows, pinks and lilacs before a black backdrop. His biographer, Max Loreau, likened these compositions to minestrone soup splashed against a wall; amid the melee, one might glimpse trees, fields, winding country roads or rustic buildings. Another of the trio, Paysage du Pas-de-Calais II, is held in the permanent collection of the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Calais, just an hour’s drive from where it was painted.

In the summer of 1963, Dubuffet had moved his studio from Paris to Le Touquet: an elegant seaside town, often called ‘Paris by the sea’, set among lush fields and coniferous forests in the northern province of Pas-de-Calais. It was this idyllic landscape, coupled with Dubuffet’s memories of the frenetic vigour of Parisian street life, that sparked the Paysages du Pas-de-Calais. Bursting with inspiration, he painted all three vast canvases within a week of one another. Combining the vivid palette and map-like perspective of Paris Circus with the linear freedom of Hourloupe, Paysage du Pas-de-Calais III reaches a fever pitch of almost neon intensity, its tumult of forms erupting like fireworks in a night sky.

In his quest for the unvarnished power of what he called Art Brut, or ‘raw art’, Dubuffet had long tapped into the land as a source for truth and earthy materiality, untouched by the false pretences of so-called civilisation. The roots of the Paysages du Pas-de-Calais can be traced back to his bright gouache landscapes of the early 1940s. Seeking near-geological textures and colours, he went on to incorporate richly marbled oil paint, collage, sgraffito and sometimes the earth itself into his work, mixing hautes pâtes of thick pigment with sand and pebbles. Dubuffet left Paris in 1954, living first at Durtol in the Auvergne, and then in Vence on the Côte d’Azur. Here he assembled Jardins of butterfly wings, dried leaves and tree bark, and painted mesmerising Texturologies, which resemble soil samples lifted from the ground.

In 1961, Dubuffet returned to Paris. He found a metropolis transformed. Free of the post-war gloom of the early 1950s, the streets were newly prosperous, and blossoming with art, fashion, cinema and commerce. This vitality had an immediate impact on Dubuffet’s work. His devotion to earthen colours and the elemental, material nature of things gave way to Paris Circus: visions of Technicolor brightness and fluid, mazy form, charged with a sense of humorous unreality that embraced chaos, artifice and caricature. ‘Over and done with the mystical jubilations of the physical world: I have become nauseated by it and no longer wish to work except against it’, Dubuffet proclaimed. ‘It is the unreal now that enchants me. I have an appetite for non-truth, the false life, the antiworld; my efforts are launched on the path of irrealism. In the paintings I now plan to do there will only be aggressively unreasonable forms, colours gaudy without reason, a theatre of irrealities, an outrageous attempt against everything existing, the way wide open for the most outlandish inventions’ (J. Dubuffet, quoted in A. Franzke, Dubuffet, New York 1981, p. 147).

Still occupied with Paris Circus, Dubuffet made his first visit to his newly-built home at Le Touquet in the summer of 1962. While talking on the telephone, he found himself doodling absentmindedly with a ballpoint pen. The resultant drawing, with meandering contours and parallel hatch marks—itself anticipated by Paris Circus’ bustling cellular networks—would germinate into a new pictorial language. Dubuffet called it LHourloupe: an artificial name with echoes of words such as hurler (‘to howl’), hululer (‘to hoot’), loup (‘wolf’) and entourlouper (‘to make a fool of’). Over the next twelve years, the artist would create pictures, sculptures, performances and architectural projects in this proliferating, puzzle-like idiom, which he saw as tapping into the innermost workings of his brain. Paysage du Pas-Calais III, with its luminous hatched lines, was painted just as Dubuffet was beginning to explore his Hourloupe language on a grand scale.

During his 1963 sojourn in Le Touquet, both the graphic innovation of LHourloupe and the garish optimism of Paris Circus were pulsing through Dubuffet’s mind. In Paysage du Pas-de-Calais III—among his very first re-explorations of his beloved countryside—the momentum of the Paris pictures reverberates in its turbulent shapes, ecstatic colours and spontaneous line, even as these forms tilt into abstraction. It is almost as if Dubuffet is witnessing a panorama of trees and fields from a moving car: indeed, he followed these pictures with a number of paintings depicting a cartoonish Citroën occupied by a pair of moon-faced passengers, racing gleefully through the countryside. As a vision of the land, Paysage du Pas-de-Calais III witnesses an artist who had not, in fact, turned his back on the physical world. Buzzing with the excitement of fresh possibilities, Dubuffet was able to see old horizons anew.

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