JEAN DUBUFFET (1901-1985)
JEAN DUBUFFET (1901-1985)
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Where Christie’s has provided a Minimum Price Guar… Read more PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT ASIAN PRIVATE COLLECTION
JEAN DUBUFFET (1901-1985)

Le Fringant

JEAN DUBUFFET (1901-1985)
Le Fringant
signed and dated ‘J.D. 71’ (lower right)
vinyl and acrylic on Klegecell
181 (H) x 79 x 3.2 cm. (71 1/4 x 31 1/8 x 1 1/4 in.)
Executed in 1971
Pace Gallery, New York, USA
Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Kolin, New York, USA (acquired from the
above in 1972)
Pace Wildenstein, New York, USA
Private collection
Private collection
Seoul Auction, 25 November 2017, lot 50
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Max Loreau (ed.), Catalogue des travaux de Jean Dubuffet: Coucou Bazar, fascicule XXVII, Lausanne, Switzerland, 1976, (illustrated, plate 44, p. 40).
Jean Dubuffet and the World of Hourloupe, Shinsegae Gallery, Seoul, 2010 (, illustrated, p.37).
New York, Pace Gallery, Jean Dubuffet Praticables, March-April 1972.
Seoul, Shinsegae Gallery, Jean Dubuffet and the World of Hourloupe, October-November 2010. This exhibition later travelled to Busan, Shinsegae Gallery Cenumcity, 2010, and Gwangju, Shinsegae Gallery Gwangju, 2010-2011.
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Jacky Ho (何善衡)
Jacky Ho (何善衡)

Lot Essay

Executed in 1971, Jean Dubuffet’s Le Fringant is the very epitome of the work’s French title—a dashing, or very stylish person. Standing nearly two meters tall, his jaunty features are accentuated by glimpses of a dazzling outfit, created from the artist’s signature arrangement of bold black lines and rich, primary colors. The form depicted here is one of Dubuffet’s iconic l’Hourloupes, the figures inspired by the characters he saw on the streets of Paris. These would become a signature motif of the latter part of the artist’s career and would appear in a variety of two- and three-dimensional forms. Characterized by their flowing lines combined and striking palette, they encompass much of what Dubuffet’s career came to represent, that of radically different interpretations of the human figure that encompassed a new language of representation.

Le Fringant’s form is assembled like piece of a puzzle, comprising a series of amorphous shapes that on their own are indistinguishable, but when brought together morph into the recognizable features of a human body. Opposing red and blue round shapes denote the eyes, while blue and red strips form the elementary form of a mouth. Elsewhere, a three-fingered hands emerges out of the melee of shapes, resting on an arm which crosses his body. In addition to the anatomical features, Dubuffet speaks to the work’s title in his use of color to depict the fashions that adorns Le Fringant. From passages of solid red and blue, to more refined areas of dense—and not so dense—cross-hatching, the artist builds up a patchwork of different concentrations of high-keyed colour to reflect the different materials that make up the figure’s dapper outfit.

This work is an example of the so-called “practicables” that Dubuffet designed over a two-year period leading up to the premiere of Coucou Bazar. These sculptures—aptly named for their practical use on the stage—became interactive components of a larger whole, forming the surreal, labyrinthian mis-en-scene of Coucou Bazar when it debuted in 1973. With its riotous cacophony of interlocking red, white and blue pieces, La Fringant epitomizes the unique visual language with which Dubuffet expressed his fascinating inner world—the world of Coucou Bazar—where the characters and objects of the everyday came blazing to life in their lively and amorphous new format.

Towards the end of 1962, the idiosyncratic L’Hourloupe series began to emerge in the artist’s work, coming as it did on the heels of Paris Circus and the newfound joie de vivre he encountered upon arriving in Paris after many years in the rural countryside, where he had spent many years engaged in the Materiologies series. What Dubuffet discovered was a thriving city that had remade itself in the postwar years and was in the midst of a thirty-year economic boom. He was immediately inspired to capture the hustle and bustle of the vibrant city life, and he embarked upon the much-beloved Paris Circus paintings in the early 1960s. There, he recorded the comings and goings of ordinary people experiencing daily life. The true genesis of the series, however, can be traced to the summer of 1962. That July, Dubuffet noticed that the automatic doodling he produced while on the phone had the makings of an entirely new series. Using red and blue ballpoint pens, he allowed his mind to float free, becoming detached from the drawing process, while he drew using instinct alone. The result—interconnected forms that resembled microscopic cells or puzzle pieces and often displaying a striped pattern—provided the potential for a new visual language, and this began his longest cycle of work, which occupied him until the mid-1970s.

Just as Dubuffet had responded to the cultural and economic shifts that he witnessed in Paris in the early 1960s, so too, did Pop artists in America create paintings that sought to express certain underlying truths they felt could not be adequately expressed by traditional means. Along with Roy Lichtenstein’s Ben-Day dots and Warhol’s silkscreens, Dubuffet evoked a precocious youthful spirit that also conveyed their own biting social critique that could be perceived beneath their slick, dazzling surfaces.

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