In a letter to Arnold Glimcher, written prior to an eponymous exhibition at The Pace Gallery in New York, and reproduced in part below, Jean Dubuffet wrote of his method for determining the names for his latest groups of three-dimensional works. What follows is a fascinating practical and philosophical explanation of the artist's development of a highly important body of his work. The third paragraph, in particular, discusses his use of the title "Logos" for a series of sculptures, including the present work, which the artist developed from and in relation to the new works, which he came to title Simulacre.
Paris, September 15, 1969
Dear Arnold Glimcher,
I am getting ready to make the poster which you requested for your exhibition, but first I must find a generic name for the constructions with a graphic message that are to be on view, and my search has been difficult. The name should, theoretically, lead the viewer to understand the purpose of the present constructions, the state of mind from which they grew.
I thought first of the two terms "mont-joies" and "cairns," both of which refer to a heap of stones raised -often at a crossroad- as a landmark or commemorative monument. This is, indeed, an aspect of these constructions and one which I have seen in them, But, aside from the fact that the two terms are little known and risk being unintelligible, they do not allow for the figurative -or shall we say allusive- character of these piles or arrangements, which are actually evocative of commonplace objects, pieces of furniture, figures, landscapes and places. Such themes are here deliberately treated in the manner previously used in my Hourloupe paintings, that is, in a meandering, uninterrupted and resolutely uniform line, which brings all planes to the surface and takes no account of the concrete quality of the object described, its size and position but, rather, abolishes all the usual categories of one notion and another, of the notion of chair, for instance, as distinct from that of tree, person, cloud, earth, landscape, or what you will. Thus this constantly uniform line, applied to all things (and, I insist, not only to the things we see but also to those which have no concrete being but are mere figments of caprice or imagination, all of them mingled indiscriminately together), reduces them to a common denominator and restores to us a continuous, undifferentiated universe. It melts down the mental classifications which we apply to the interpretation (or, rather, the listing) of everyday facts and sights and, in this way, the play of our minds between one object or category and another is liberated and acquires notably greater mobility.
This uniform, departicularizing line, applied indifferently to all objects and extended, without a break, to mental as well as physical phenomena, is something I associate with the idea of a new logos. Hence the titles which have frequently pinned to objects of the Hourloupe cycle, such as "Boundary to the Logos," "Outpouring of the Logos," "Element of the Logos," "Logological Site" and so on. It may be objected that I endow this word with the opposite of its usual meaning, since it commonly designates the mental operation of name and classification, whereas my intention is, on the contrary, to wipe out categories and turn back to an undifferentiated continuum. But the aim of these works is, by breaking down the conventional logos, to set up or, rather, to suggest a new one, to reveal the arbitrary and specious character of the logos with which we are familiar and the enduring possibility of reinterpreting the world and basing our thinking on a logos of a very different kind...
...These various ideas eventually came to seem somewhat heavy and awkward, and finally I settled upon the name -assuredly more imprecise and lending itself to misinterpretation by silly people (to whom, however, the works are not addressed) of "Simulacres," which hints, not too explicitly, at their phantasmic and illusory quality. For the dictionary meaning of "simulacre" is "unreal semblance" or "mock appearance," terms which are also applied to ghosts.
With warmest regards-
(Quoted in M. Glimcher, Jean Dubuffet: Towards an Alternative Reality, New York, 1987, pp. 223-224).