Claire Tabouret - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Thursday, October 14, 2021 | Phillips

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  • 'There’s something about a human face.… [It is] constantly in motion, constantly escaping, constantly mysterious—and painting allows me to paint this state of [being] unfixed.' —Claire TabouretThrough her glowing painterly surfaces Claire Tabouret intensely analyses identity and studies childhood and its associated challenges. Le Carnaval (Les Cotillons), 2015, is an exquisite example from Tabouret’s Le Carnaval series. The portrait depicts a young girl beautifully collaged with fabric confetti, emphasising the importance of costume in the artist’s work. Tabouret poignantly draws on the power of the eyes, the windows to the soul, a tool which instantly connects with the viewer, calling attention to the humanity in her sitters. Timeless and carnivalesque, the theatrics within the painting highlight an intensity in the child’s lucid and determined search beyond the picture frame for a way out of the costumed confinement.
    'I wanted to dress them up with fabrics to give them a supplement of reality and a supplement of death. A bit like Degas’ ‘Little Dancer Aged Fourteen’ who has a tulle tutu and a pink satin ribbon in her hair. She’s terribly morbid.' —Claire Tabouret Within her works, Tabouret returns to an exploration in clothing, a means of self-expression and a reflection of culture and fashions; a product of both psychological and social factors. Tabouret’s paintings are infused with a sense of the universality of human destiny. As Annabelle Ténèze has discussed: ‘Jean Starobinski taught us all about the kinship between the clown and the painter, from Edgar Degas to Pablo Picasso, and from Edward Hopper to Cindy Sherman, and described how the clown, the artist’s alter ego, is behind the mask, behind the costume, the melancholy figure of the person who devotes their public life to the stage, to the gaze of others, to the point of forgetting and losing themselves. Even behind the scenes, carnival or circus disguises reveal the tragicomedy of life’.i Tabouret puts into practice the painterly skills of ghosts of masters past in subject matter and also technique; we see in the handling of paint, colour, line and brush the traces of Manet and Picasso.

    In Le Carnaval (Les Cotillons) there is a duality between the festive costume and the contradictory set gaze and solemn expression on the girl’s face. Tabouret’s subjects are often a psychological study, an exploration into the development of a young woman evolving through the stages of life. Tabouret calls on her own memories from childhood and reflects on the moment that she was drawn to painting: her treatment of skin, equated to the whimsical surface of water, draws on her first encounter with Monet’s waterlilies as a child.ii The slightly washed green colour is like a faded photograph, exuding an ephemeral quality. The loose paint strokes are like those found in distant memory.


    Claude Monet, Waterlilies: Morning, 1914-1918, oil on canvas, Musée de l'Orangerie, Paris, France. Photo credit Bridgeman Images.

    The power of the light source in Tabouret’s work is intriguing: simultaneously washed-out and incandescent. The painted surface is constructed with a primary fluorescent layer, determinable towards the edges of the canvas, illuminating the surface and creating a halo which is contrasted by the juxtaposing darkness. This technique creates a phosphorescent light, like that emitted from a firefly, or the cool metallic shades of a full moon in a stormy night sky: ‘In my painting, I look for the moment when things topple over. I stop when I’ve found the light of the firefly’.iii
    'I recorded a lot of night time lightning strikes, it lights everything up for a second, there are no shadows. It’s a very peculiar light.' —Claire Tabouret Claire Tabouret’s poignant and striking paintings have propelled her to critical acclaim over the past decade. Her works are housed in the Musée des Beaux Arts de Montréal, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Pérez Art Museum, Miami, among others. 


    i Annabelle Ténèze, ‘Claire Tabouret: Perpetual Carnival’ in Perrotin, Claire Tabouret, 2020, p. 21
    ii Claire Tabouret, quoted in J. Palumbo, 'Claire Tabouret's New Self-Portraits Capture the Fragility of Solitude,' Artsy, 26 October 2020, online
    iii Léa Bismuth, ‘An Interview of Claire Tabouret by Léa Bismuth,’ online

    • Provenance

      Galerie Bugada & Cargnel, Paris
      Private Collection, Paris


Le Carnaval (Les Cotillons)

signed, titled and dated 'C. TABOURET 2015 LE CARNAVAL (LES CoTiLLONS)' on the reverse
acrylic and fabric collage on canvas
45.7 x 38 cm (17 7/8 x 14 7/8 in.)
Executed in 2015.

Full Cataloguing

£30,000 - 50,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £126,000

Contact Specialist

Tamila Kerimova
Specialist, Director, Head of Day Sale

20th Century & Contemporary Art

+44 20 7318 4065
[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 14 October 2021