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

Mondanité XXIII

Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985)
Mondanité XXIII
signed with the artist's initials and dated 'J.D.75' (upper right)
vinyl on paper laid down on canvas
25 3/8 x 36 1/8 in. (64.5 x 91.8 cm.)
Painted in 1975.
Galerie Beyeler, Basel
Gallery Moos, Toronto
Martha Jackson Gallery, New York, 1980
Anderson Gallery, Buffalo
Private collection, Caracas, 1995
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1996
M. Loreau, ed., Catalogue de travaux de Jean Dubuffet, Fascicule XXX: Parachiffres, Mondanités, Lieux abrégés, Paris 1980, pp. 52, 135 and 139, no. 111 (illustrated).
Paris, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Jean Dubuffet: Parachiffres, Mondanités et Peintures de 1975, January-February 1976, no. 45.
Basel, Galerie Beyeler, Jean Dubuffet: Parachiffres, Mondanités et Peintures de 1975, May-June 1976, no. 11.
Amsterdam, Galerie Collection d'Art, Jean Dubuffet, December 1978-February 1979.
Buffalo, Anderson Gallery, Selections from the Collection, Part 1, October-November 1991, no. 16.
Buffalo, Anderson Gallery, In The Eye of the Beholder, July 1991, no. 25.
London, Robert Sandelson Gallery, Jean Dubuffet: Paintings and Sculpture from the 1960s and 1970s, October-November 2007.
New York, Helly Nahmad Gallery, Jean Dubuffet, October 2009-January 2010.
Seoul, Busan and Gwanju, Shinsegae Gallery, Jean Dubuffet and the World of Hourloupe, October-January 2011, p. 52 (illustrated).
Zürich, Hauser & Wirth, Jean Dubuffet and the City, June-September 2018, p. 150, no. 85 (illustrated).

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Isabella Lauria Vice President, Senior Specialist, Head of 21st Century Evening Sale

Lot Essay

Executed in 1975, Jean Dubuffet’s Mondanité XXIII immediately follows the artist's largest series, LHourloupe, which occupied him over a twelve-year span from 1962 to 1974. Thrumming with motion and frenetic energy, Mondanité XXIII is a spirited work from Dubuffet’s important but lesser known Mondanité series. The figures are rendered in a flurry of animated lines, and each are depicted in the joyful, naïve style that characterized the artist’s practice. Against a gleaming white ground, Dubuffet paints his jumble of figures in eyepopping reds and oranges. Utterly divorced from classical perspective traditions, Mondanité XXIII collapses time, action and space into a single, feverish panel. Mondanité XXIII is directly based on Dubuffet's unique method of semi-autonomous drawing that he first began while speaking on the telephone. By combining these chance forms created by spontaneous and unconscious movements of the pen to create a series of indeterminate shapes, Dubuffet was able to arrange the elements in such a way that they evoke the figurative world, yet remain a deliberate, jangling chaos, filled with his customary sense of fun and play.

Consistent with Dubuffet’s use of playful titles throughout his oeuvre, the word "mondanité" functions as a figure of speech that connotes worldliness and society life. In these paintings, Dubuffet astutely captures the claustrophobic press of the masses and the frenetic heartbeat of urban commotion, a departure from his previous works depicting single individuals. Mondanité XXIII conveys Dubuffet’s ability to capture the jubilance he saw in Parisian society life, as he exclaimed: “It is the unreal now that enchants me; I have an appetite for nontruth, the false life, the anti-world; my efforts are launched on the path of irrealism. …I continue moreover to think, as I always have, that truly violent and highly efficacious effects are arrived at by skillfully dosing marriages of irrealism with realism, the presence of one seeming to me necessary in order to manifest the other. In the paintings I now plan to do there will only be aggressively unreasonable forms, colors gaudy without reason, a theater of irrealities, an outrageous attempt against everything existing, the way wide open for the most outlandish inventions” (J. Dubuffet, quoted in A. Frankze, Dubuffet, New York, 1981, p. 147).

In tune with his bold Art Brut mission to create direct, immediate sensation in his works, Dubuffet aimed to make his paintings inviting and relatable. Rather than creating abstract, intangible meditations on mental space, he filled them with friendly, appealing characters. These figures, he explained, "heighten the evocative power of the place portrayed … the presence of a human figure gives the place the necessary existence and vitality without which it might remain to the observer merely a network of incomprehensible planes and lines. The figures have the function of a catalyst that triggers the imagination" (J. Dubuffet, quoted in Jean Dubuffet, exh. cat., Museum der Moderne, Salzburg, 2003, p. 252). Mondanité XXIII is a culmination of Dubuffet’s mature artistic vision that exemplifies not only his formal and stylistic insight but also his precocious interpretation of cosmopolitan society.

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