New York

The most important work by the artist still in private hands to come to auction 

Among the Works to Lead Christie’s


A Curated Evening Sale

Monday, May 11, 2015 at Christie’s Rockefeller Center

New York – On May 11, Christie's dedicated Evening Auction Looking Forward to the Past will present a major painting by Jean Dubuffet from the celebrated Paris Circus series. Executed in 1961 at the height of his creative development, this major work can be seen in both its scale and ambition as its epitome of his signature style from the 1960s. This highly chromatic and vibrant work has been featured prominently in every major museum exhibitions devoted to the artist. Estimated in the region of $25 million, Paris Polka is the ultimate masterpiece still in private hand to be offered at auction and will likely break the previous auction record of $7.4 million which was achieved last November in New York. Paris Polka is undoubtedly the best work by Dubuffet and amongst the four largest in scale from the series, the other ones are in museums, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Detroit Art institute.

In 1961, Dubuffet returned to the hustle-bustle of Paris after spending years in the south of France. He was immediately intoxicated by the raw and vibrant life of the city around him, a striking contrast to the post-war city that he had left. His renewed interest in depicting humanity exploded onto the canvas in a firework-like display of intense color. In a few months in 1961, he creates several paintings of street scenes and numerous gouaches and drawings that celebrate the city. Painted in late 1961, Paris Polka is filled with color, vigor and modernity, capturing the creative frenzy that marked Dubuffet's art during this period. The Paris Circus series have become the most sought after and more than half of the Paris Circus street scene paintings are housed prestigious public collections and museums.

The scale, palette and complexity of the composition which include people, cars, storefront, architecture, only finds its equal in Le Commerce Prospere, which is part of the  Museum of Modern Art in New York.  Paris Polka can be seen as a harbinger of the celebrated Hourloupe cycle, the iconic blue, red and white work that will dominate the rest of the artist’s career in paintings, sculpture, architecture and performance. The word ‘l’Entourloupe’, at the center of the present work, has often been seen as one inspiration for the made-up work l’Hourloupe. It can also be read as a comment on the artist as a trickster.

Note to the Editors:

Christie’s is the leader for Post-War and Contemporary Art worldwide, and holds the highest prices for any works of art sold at auction and sale totals: 

On November 12, 2013, at Christie’s New York, Francis Bacon’s Three Studies of Lucian Freud, was sold for $142,405,000 setting the new world auction record for any work of art ever sold at auction.

The Evening sale of Post-War and Contemporary Art, on November 12, 2014, totaled $852,887,000– the highest auction total in art market history.


London: 11-16 April 2015                                                


New York: 1-11 May 2015                                 


New York: 11 May 2015                   

Christie’s 20 Rockefeller Plaza 



(US) Capucine Milliot | +1 212 641 5078 |

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