Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985)
Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985)

Deux Automobiles (Renault et 78-45-Y)

Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985)
Deux Automobiles (Renault et 78-45-Y)
signed with the artist's initials and dated 'J.D. 18/6/61' (lower right)
ink and gouache on paper
17 x 13 1/8 in. (43.2 x 33.3 cm.)
Executed in 1961.
Galerie Daniel Cordier, Paris
Feigen Gallery, Chicago
Robert Cohen, St. Louis
Their sale; Leslie Hindman Auctioneers, Chicago, 21 May 2015, lot 209
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner
M. Loreau, ed., Catalogue des travaux de Jean Dubuffet, Fascicule XIX: Paris Circus, Paris, 1965, p. 46, no. 67 (illustrated).
Geneva, Opera Gallery, Calder / Dubuffet. Entre ciel et terre, September-October 2015, p. 67 (illustrated).

Lot Essay

‘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).

In 1961 Dubuffet’s art took a new aesthetic direction. This change in his work was intimately linked to a change the artist's life. In January of that year he returned to Paris after having spent more than seven years in the countryside near Vence, where his proximity to nature had a profound effect on his work into textures and various forms. Back in the French capital, he turned away from the earth-like materials that had occupied him for many years in his Matériologies series. Now he experienced the city in an intense moment of visual and sensual excitement that signaled the prosperity and recovery of the city after World War II and inspired him to begin the vibrantly and expressive Paris Circus paintings. Concurrent with this iconic series, Dubuffet also favored a radical return to drawing and the expressive freedom and fluidity of execution he found in gouache, oil and paper. Deux Automobiles (Renault et 78-45-Y), executed on June 18, 1961, was made in this moment; the superimposed strokes of gouache and ink plays on transparencies and juxtapositions in an attempt to recreate the sensations experienced by the artist when looking at the street.

Captivated by the energy coursing through the Parisian streets, Dubuffet was swept up in the whirl of the city bustling with cars and people. The artist often made sketches from life at café terraces, incorporated these ideas into his compositions his studio. The dynamism of the city, its people and the cars that energized its streets were channeled into representations laden with wonder and immediacy with the artist’s signature childlike style. The artist's fascination for the urban world and its hubbub can be clearly seen in Deux Automobiles (Renault et 78-45-Y). Two cars have been splayed and flattened into an amoeba-like shape to present top, front, back and sides all in one view. Two figures in each car have been represented from a perspective from above that makes them appear to be lying down. In keeping with Dubuffet’s combative position against tradition, and with it an established criterion for pictorial construction, the composition of Deux Automobiles is organized on a fresh new principle fitting for a newly rebuilt city.

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