Jean Dubuffet - Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Thursday, May 15, 2014 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    The Pace Gallery, New York
    Collection Tony Fisher, New York
    The Pace Gallery, New York

  • Exhibited

    New York, The Pace Gallery, Jean Dubuffet: Partitions 1980-1981/Psycho-Sites 1981, December 3, 1982 – January 8, 1983
    Colorado Springs, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Gallery of Contemporary Art, Colorado Collects: Art of the 20th Century, May 17 – August 16, 1991

  • Literature

    C. Ratcliff, Jean Dubuffet: Partitions 1980-1981/Psycho-Sites 1981, exh. cat., Pace Gallery, New York, 1982, n.p. (illustrated)
    Catalogue des Travaux de Jean Dubuffet, Fascicule XXXIII: Sites aux figurines, Partitions, Paris: Les Editions de Minuit, 1982, no. 274, p. 113, pl. 274 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Voie Piétonnière is a superb example of Dubuffet’s late work, and one of his first paintings from 1981. Depicting eight individual characters, three as solo figures, two others as a pair, and the last as a trio, the work is from one of his last series of paintings, the Partitions. Building off of myriad sources from his own work, mainly the Théâtres de mémoire from only four years prior coupled with the much older series, Paris Circus, from 1957-59, Dubuffet recreates the freneticism of the urban environment. Each individual figure is rendered in strict two-dimensionality, delineated by a vibrant blue and red outline and set against an inky black abyss. Whether expressed in profile or head-on, the faces of the figures seem painted as if by a child and in such a way as to immediately and directly address the viewer without any of the intermediary distractions of “realistic” painting. Similarly, the street scenes have been abstracted into brilliant scratches of color. Bright pinks, whitened blues, ochre and yellow streaks of paint break up the composition, offsetting each grouping of figures while keeping them removed and unable ever to congregate. There is no organized or logical space within the canvas, and as a result the viewer’s eye is forced to rove throughout, piecing together the various elements. In so doing, one becomes increasingly aware of the disjointedness of everyday life and the manner in which his or her senses are constantly bombarded by similarly simultaneous and disjointed stimuli.

    Dubuffet’s work speaks of the untrained and primal urge to create, reaching a process perhaps closer to a “pure psychic automatism” than the Surrealists ever did. Dubuffet believed art was a purely personal action, and that attempts to “communicate with the public” or “to adapt, to conform, to mimic” traditional aesthetic conventions were a death knell to art. (Jean Dubuffet: A Retrospective, exh. cat., New York: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1973, p. 23) Voie Piétonnière is a fantastic reflection of this ideal in its direct refutation of realistic forms, coherent composition, or immediate legibility. Instead, the painting directly confronts the viewer with its contrasts, confusion and variance which, in their entropy, are more reflective of the real world than any mimetic work could ever be.


Voie piétonnière

acrylic on canvas
39 x 31 3/4 in. (99.1 x 80.6 cm.)
Initialed and dated "J.D. 81" lower right.

$400,000 - 600,000 

Sold for $605,000

Contact Specialist
Zach Miner
Head of Sale
+1 212 940 1256

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 15 May 2014 7PM