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    Sale 11798

    Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Auction

    30 June 2016, London, King Street

  • Lot 195

    JEAN DUBUFFET (1901-1985)

    Chien (Dog)

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    JEAN DUBUFFET (1901-1985)
    Chien (Dog)
    signed and dated 'J. Dubuffet 54' (upper right)
    oil and gouache on paper laid down on canvas
    13 ¼ x 16 5/8in. (33.8 x 42.2cm.)
    Painted in 1954


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    ‘What to me seems interesting is to recover in the representation of an object the whole complex set of impressions we receive as we see it in everyday life, the manner in which it has touched our sensibility, and the forms it assumes in our memory’ (J. Dubuffet, ‘Vaches, Herbe, Frondaisons’, in P. Selz, The Work of Jean Dubuffet, New York 1962, p. 97).

    With its raw, tactile painterly surface, Jean Dubuffet’s Chien presents a coarse, abstract terrain that coalesces into the shape of a dog. Rendered with impulsive painterly gesture and thick, textural swathes of pigment, the animal’s body sprawls across the breadth of the canvas, pulsating with visceral, primal energy. Daubs of impasto accumulate upon the surface like cracked earth, incised with wild, primitive markings redolent of ancient graffiti. Painted between September and December 1954, the work follows on from the paintings of cows and other rural subject matter inspired by Dubuffet’s sojourn in the French countryside, where his wife Lili was recuperating from tuberculosis. ‘From the beginning of July 1954, as my wife, for reasons of health, was living on the outskirts of Clermont-Ferrand’, he recalled, ‘I often had occasion to drive along the road between Paris and Auvergne, and to take long solitary walks in the countryside around the village where she was being cared for. In this village I had at my disposal a little place which I fitted up as a studio. Once more I became preoccupied with country subjects - fields, grassy pastures, cattle, carts and the work of the fields - all things I had treated with enthusiasm in 1943 and 1944’ (J. Dubuffet, ‘Vaches, Herbe, Frondaisons’, in P. Selz, The Work of Jean Dubuffet, New York 1962, pp. 96-103). Inspired by his bucolic surroundings, Dubuffet’s depictions of flora and fauna became new vehicles for the development of what he termed art brut: a career-long quest for primitive, unschooled visual languages, free from the trappings of Western cultural tradition. In his pastoral, countryside setting, far from the clamour of the city, works such as Chien allowed him to further his exploration of this radical new way of seeing.

    During the previous decade, Dubuffet’s engagement with art brut had led him to examine a multitude of unconventional visual languages, including the art of children and the insane. Following the destruction and despair brought about by the Second World War, Dubuffet sought to erase all standard aesthetic codes, embracing the primordial vitality found in alternative pictorial traditions. His fascination with animals was rooted in the same desire to access innate existential truths. As the artist explained, ‘It is a very curious fact that people who are passionately attached to something, say for example to an animal, would not be able to give you any of the animal’s exact measurements or else would give incredibly wrong ones, the way children draw from memory objects that are very familiar to them or that have made a deep impression on them. So, it seems to me, that to set oneself to inventory the true measurements of things is a practice without the slightest value. What to me seems interesting is to recover in the representation of an object the whole complex set of impressions we receive as we see it in everyday life, the manner in which it has touched our sensibility, and the forms it assumes in our memory’ (J. Dubuffet, ‘Vaches, Herbe, Frondaisons’, in P. Selz, The Work of Jean Dubuffet, New York 1962, p. 97).

    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.


    Provenance

    World House Galleries, New York.
    Dr and Mrs Theodore J. Edlich Jr., New York.
    Anon. sale, Sotheby’s London, 2 April 1974, lot 114.
    Arthur Tooth, London.
    Jokubas Kazinikas Art Gallery, Mannheim.
    Private Collection, Europe.


    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY FROM A EUROPEAN PRIVATE COLLECTION


    Literature

    M. Loreau (ed.), Catalogue des travaux de Jean Dubuffet: Vaches-Petites statues de la vie précaire, vol. X, Lausanne 1969, no. 204 (illustrated, p. 117).


    Exhibited

    New York, World House Galleries, Jean Dubuffet, 1960, no. 19 (illustrated, unpaged).
    Berlin, Akademie der Künste, Dubuffet-Restrospektive, 1980-1981, no. 147 (illustrated, p. 339). This exhibition later travelled to Vienna, Museum der Modernen Künste and Cologne, Josef Haubrich Kunsthalle.
    Berlin, Galerie Michael Haas, Jean Dubuffet 1901-1985, 1987, no. 9 (illustrated in colour, unpaged).