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    Sale 1904

    Post War and Contemporary Art Morning Session

    14 November 2007, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 155

    Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985)

    Exaltation du ciel

    Price Realised  


    Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985)
    Exaltation du ciel
    signed and dated 'J. Dubuffet 52' (upper right)
    oil on masonite
    37 x 30 in. (94 x 76.2 cm.)
    Painted in 1952.

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    Executed in the summer of 1952, Jean Dubuffet's Exaltation du ciel (Exaltation of the sky) belongs to an important group of works entitled Landscapes Tables, Landscapes of the Mind, and Stones of Philosophy. The artist produced this series in 1951-1952, introducing new materials into his work. These paintings were composed of a mixture of sand, plaster, varnish, zinc oxide, carbonized lime, coal powder, and polymerized oil, called Spot putty or Swedish putty. The mortar-like paste was then scrubbed, scraped and scratched by the artist into a vibrant living surface. The landscape paintings of these years are the culmination of Dubuffet's aim to interact with what he believed was the inherently animate nature of these materials. The artist respected the various mediums he used and did not impose his will, instead he created a unified surface from which the painting emerges. The results expose some of Dubuffet's impressions of the Sahara desert and his fascination for continuous surfaces.

    Exaltation du ciel is both a concrete and mental landscape. Its extraordinary relief and light variation of color can be compared to old sculpted wood. The variety of terrain within the painting is reminiscent of the abandoned ruins of ancient cities. The viewer can imagine foundations, crypts, and fragments of pottery veiled beneath the depicted landscape. Upon closer inspection, everything disappears: surfaces seem like puddles of mud where stagnate skeletons of prehistoric fish reside. Exaltation du ciel explores, through highly material means, the immaterial quality of human imagination. The separation of the canvas into upper white and lower brown quadrants represents a disassociation between the earth and the sky producing something more metaphysical.


    Pierre Matisse, New York, acquired from the artist 1952
    By descent to the present owner

    Pre-Lot Text

    Property from the Estate of Pierre-Noël Matisse


    M. Loreau, ed., Catalogue des travaux de Jean Dubuffet: Tables paysagées, Paris, 1979, fascicule VII, pp. 161 and 206 (illustrated in color).


    Berlin, Akademie der Künste, Jean Dubuffet Retrospective, September-October 1980.