JEAN DUBUFFET (1901-1985)
JEAN DUBUFFET (1901-1985)
JEAN DUBUFFET (1901-1985)
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JEAN DUBUFFET (1901-1985)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more TWO MASTERWORKS FROM THE NEUMANN FAMILY COLLECTION
JEAN DUBUFFET (1901-1985)

Hurleuse (Howler)

JEAN DUBUFFET (1901-1985)
Hurleuse (Howler)
signed and dated 'J. Dubuffet avril 1950' (lower left); inscribed and dated 'avril 50' (on the reverse)
oil and sand on masonite
32 1⁄4 x 25 1⁄2in. (81.9 x 64.7cm.)
Executed in 1950
Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York.
Morton G. Neumann, Chicago (acquired from the above in 1950), and thence by descent to the present owners.
M. Loreau (ed.), Catalogue des Travaux de Jean Dubuffet: Fascicule VI: Corps de Dames, Lausanne 1965, p. 115, no. 21 (illustrated, p. 26).
G. Limbour, Tableau Bon Levain, A Vous de Cuire la Pate: LArt Brut de Jean Dubuffet, Paris and New York 1953, p. 101 (illustrated, p. 46).
New York, Pierre Matisse Gallery, Jean Dubuffet, 1951, p. 8, no. 17.
Chicago, The Arts Club of Chicago, Jean Dubuffet, 1951-1952, no. 32.
Paris, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Jean Dubuffet 1942-1960, 1960, p. 216, no. 66 (illustrated, p. 290).
Washington D.C., National Gallery of Art, The Morton G. Neumann Family Collection, vol. I, 1980, p. 136, no. 100 (illustrated, p. 101, and illustrated in vol. II, p. 66). This exhibition later travelled to Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago.
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. This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Tessa Lord
Tessa Lord Senior Specialist, Head of Department

Lot Essay

Held for its entire life in the celebrated Morton G. Neumann Family Collection—one of the twentieth century’s great assemblages of modern and contemporary art—Hurleuse (Howler) stands among the first works in Jean Dubuffet’s seminal series Corps de Dames (Bodies of Women). A raw, tactile vision of the female form, wrought from a visceral concoction of paint and sand, it quivers before the viewer like an ancient carving hewn into a rockface. Streaks of yellow chart the undulations of her figure, emerging from marbled mineral strata like a geological terrain. Her body becomes a landscape, seemingly forged from the very substance of the earth; her hands clasp her belly in the manner of a fertility idol. Below blazing eyes, her teeth are bared, as if—in accordance with the work’s title—she might erupt any moment into a primal scream. Begun in April 1950, and unveiled the following year at Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York—a landmark exhibition that featured the present work, as well as an exquisite hand-illustrated catalogue by Dubuffet—the Corps de Dames sent ripples through the art world. Transforming the time-honoured subject of the female nude into a site of material alchemy and magic, Hurleuse takes its place alongside examples held in institutions worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Tate Liverpool and the Fondation Beyeler; the series also formed a key part of Dubuffet’s major retrospective at the Barbican Art Gallery, London, earlier this year.

Morton Neumann, a Chicago businessman, began collecting following his first trip to Europe in 1948. Showcased in a major touring exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C., in 1980—in which the present work was included—his holdings would come to reflect almost every major Western art movement of the twentieth century. Contemporaneous with the Women of Willem de Kooning, who at the time was unbeknown to Dubuffet, the Corps de Dames were among the major milestones within Neumann’s survey. At the time of their creation, they represented the culmination of the artist’s engagement with ‘Art Brut’: a term that described art created outside the parameters of Western teaching and culture. Studying the drawings of desert tribes, children and psychiatric patients, among others, had led Dubuffet to reject conventional aesthetic standards. Instead, through the intuitive, improvised vitality of his surfaces, he sought to strip away centuries of academic tradition, revealing the essence of the human spirit at its most raw. Dubuffet would deliver many of these ideas in his seminal lecture ‘Anticultural Positions’ at the Arts Club of Chicago in December 1951, where Hurleuse was also shown; such teachings would have a profound impact on future generations, inspiring artists from Claes Oldenburg and Georg Baselitz to Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Dubuffet’s deliberate recourse to the female nude, in particular, was part and parcel of his attack on the academy. ‘Nothing seems to be more false, more stupid, than the way students in an art class are placed in front of a completely nude woman … and stare at her for hours’, he wrote (J. Dubuffet, ‘Memoir on the Development of my Work from 1952’, reproduced in The Work of Jean Dubuffet, exh. cat. Museum of Modern Art, New York 1962, p. 97). Dubuffet’s women, by contrast, sought to peel back the external trappings of their subjects, revealing the primal, spiritual energy that coursed through their veins. His layered use of mixed media aspired to transcend the body’s external appearance, capturing instead a sense of its internal dynamism. For Dubuffet, this shift in emphasis railed against the ‘miserable and most depressing’ ideals of beauty ‘inherited from the Greeks and cultivated by the magazine covers’ (J. Dubuffet, ‘Preface 1952’, reproduced ibid., p. 64). In Hurleuse, the artist finds radiance in the very fact of being alive: the female body is no longer subservient to the gaze of the viewer, but rather—in howling glory—asserts its status as a natural wonder.

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