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Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985)
Property from a Distinguished European Collection
Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985)

Quatre Notables

Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985)
Quatre Notables
signed and dated 'J. Dubuffet 29 VI 44' (lower right)
ink and grattage on paper
9 3/4 x 12 1/4 in. (24.6 x 31 cm.)
Executed in 1944.
André Jaoul, Neuilly-sur-Seine
Michel Jaoul, Neuilly-sur-Seine, by descent from the above
Acquired from the above by the present owner
D. Cordier, Les dessins de Jean Dubuffet, Paris and New York, 1960, n.p., no. 13 (illustrated).
M. Loreau, Jean Dubuffet: Délits, Déportements, Lieux de haut jeu, Paris, 1971, p. 24 (illustrated).
B. Gheerbrant, “Courtes Histoires de Bonshommes,” Opus International, no. 93, Spring 1984, p. 19 (illustrated).
M. Loreau, Catalogue des travaux de Jean Dubuffet - Fascicule I: Marionnettes de la ville et de la campagne, nouvelle édition, Paris, 1993, p. 187, no. 295 (illustrated).
Paris, Galerie René Drouin, Tableaux et dessins de Jean Dubuffet, October-November 1944, n.p., no. 76.
Paris, Cercle Volney, Exposition de peintures, dessins et divers travaux exe´cute´s de 1942 à 1954 par Jean Dubuffet, March-April 1954.
Paris, Galerie Berggruen, Re´trospective des dessins de Jean Dubuffet, October-November 1960.
Madrid, Fundación La Caixa, Sala de Exposiciones, Jean Dubuffet: Del paisaje físico al paisaje mental, March-April 1992, p. 52, no. 41 (illustrated in color).
Brussels, Centre Culturel "Le Botanique," Jean Dubuffet: du trait à la matière, November 1996-February 1997, p. 61 (illustrated in color).
Taipei, National Museum of History, Re´trospective Jean Dubuffet 1919-1985, September-December 1998, p. 74, no. 20 (illustrated in color).
Saarbrücken, Saarlandmuseum, Jean Dubuffet, Figuren und Köpfe: Auf der Suche nach einer Gegenkultur, September-November 1999, p. 161, no. 86 (illustrated in color).
Le Havre, Musée d'art moderne André Malraux, Le the´a^tre de Jean Dubuffet, May-September 2001, p. 46 (illustrated in color).
Museum der Moderne Salzburg, Rupertinum and Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Jean Dubuffet: Trace of an Adventure, July 2003-April 2004, pp. 50 and 52-53 (illustrated in color).
Paris, Christie's, Tant pis, j’y vais, j’aime ça. Jean Dubuffet de Paris Circus à L'Hourloupe, September 2014, p. 57 (illustrated in color).

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Sara Friedlander
Sara Friedlander

Lot Essay

A triumph of Dubuffet’s early career, Quatres Notables anticipates the artist’s famous Wall with Inscriptions (1945), which now in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. The consummate flâneur, Dubuffet was inspired by the energy and excitement of his immediate surroundings, such as these four noble men standing in front of a brick apartment building. Their simplified forms have been physically etched into the built-up, almost asphalt-like, surface of the painting, so that the marks made upon it take on a degree of permanence. Employing a technique developed by the Surrealists, Dubuffet prepared the surface of the cardboard with a thick layer of oil paint, which he then carved to extrude the figures in a sculptural approach to painting. The naively rendered figures and houses signal the artist’s intention to break free from the tropes of traditional art in favor a freer, more direct mode of expression.

It was not until 1942, in the wake of Nazi occupation of Paris, that Dubuffet fully committed himself to painting and, with it, a resolve to forge his own unique path that rejected the artistic establishment. As Art historian Andreas Franzke elaborates: “[Dubuffet] introduced into the game the kind of creative expressions and elementary approaches to making images that unschooled persons have. Their images, he says, are products of a more authentic, less falsified, less spoiled, and wholly human desire for self-expression. Children’s drawings, anonymous scribbles on walls and most of all, the art of people cut off from all contact with the cultural milieu—these are what interest Dubuffet, and often provide points of departure for his own inventions” (A. Franzke, Dubuffet, New York, 1981, p 10).

Quatre Notables was completed on June 29, 1944. Working in Paris, Dubuffet would not have known that less than a month later, on August 19, 1944, Paris would be liberated from Nazi forces, and that by September 2, 1945, World War II would be over. Throughout the denouement of modern art, Dubuffet stood by painting, creating the first images for a world that would soon begin a new and would necessitate a new aesthetic language.

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