Jean Dubuffet - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Sunday, June 26, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Jean Planque, Lausanne
    Herbert Mayer, New York (c. 1962)
    Palais Galliera, Paris, Maitres Rheims et Laurin, 6 December 1966, lot 102
    Private Collection
    Palais Galliera, Paris, Maitres Rheims et Laurin, 25 June 1974
    Patrice Trigano, Paris
    Christie's, Paris, Collection Patrice Trigano, Itinéraire d'une passion, 5 July 2005, lot 273
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Literature

    M. Loreau, Catalogue des travaux de Jean Dubuffet, fascicule XIV: Célébration du sol II, texturologies, topographies, Geneva, 1969, no. 32, p. 34 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Complex and intricate, Jean Dubuffet’s Nuancements au sol (Texturologie XLIII), is a net of bright and speckled elements boasting a marvellous and unique texture. In this piece, Dubuffet chose to break away from Western art’s hierarchy of subject matter and project his artistic vision toward making works that represented meaningful ideas rather than something which is simply aesthetically pleasing. Jean Planque, the famous collector and confidant of Ernst Beyeler, previously owned this specific work. He describes how he came to own this work and the conversation he had with Dubuffet during his realisation of the series: ‘Once he called me, “Planque come quickly!” So one morning we went up to the studio where he shows me the multiple paintings that were there, numerous works stacked up that actually looked like dotted waxed canvases, mechanical, achieved by consecutive impressions. Dubuffet said “Here it is this is some material I have made to create assemblages. This morning I saw it as alive and realised it does not have anything to do with my first idea. Its material to be used as it is. I’m puzzled by what I’ve done, what do you think?” I too was puzzled. I was astounded. I said “yes these things are alive! Don’t destroy them, you have to keep them, you can choose what is alive and what is not.” It was at this moment that he gave me one’. (Jean Planque quoted in Béatrice Delapraz, L’œil de Planque, confidences d’un collectionneur). The present lot being Dubuffet’s generous gift.

    This work - and the entirety of the Texturologies series - celebrate one of the most essential aspects of life: soil. In realizing this work, Dubuffet was inspired by two main aspects. Firstly, he regarded the New York School’s sparing aesthetic and absolute abstraction highly; in fact he developed this series of works by placing the canvas on the floor and painting over it similarly to Jackson Pollock. Secondly, he was inspired by a technique known as ‘Tyrolean,’ in which master masons would apply plaster to wall and then using branches would texturise it. As the artist illustrated in a catalogue, 'I combined this technique with others - successive layers, applications of sheets of paper, scattering sand over the painting, scratching it with the prongs of a fork. In this way I produced finely worked sheets that gave the impression of teeming matter, alive and sparkling, which I could use to represent soil.' Dubuffet captured this technique and adapted it to painting in a masterful and original manner that drew from contemporary inspirations yet retained the innovative and curious qualities that make Dubuffet’s art so spectacular. Dubuffet explained that he meant to give the 'impression of teeming matter, alive and sparkling, which I could use to represent soil, but which could also evoke all kinds of indeterminate textures, and even galaxies and nebulae.' (Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.182-3, reproduced p. 182).

    Dubuffet produced these works in intervals and in different locations. The first interval for making these works occurred in September of 1957 in Venice. The second interval of the series was undertaken in Paris during October of 1958. To create this series he made a number of basic sections that could be re-arranged in various combinations. His purpose for doing so was to depict soil that did not have a specific composition. This approach activated the canvas and brought to an otherwise inanimate object life and a new perspective. In this manner, Dubuffet was able to create soil that could be regarded as changing endlessly. Dubuffet believed that the purpose for making art was to depict, express, and transmit the condition of humanity; perhaps his pursuit to depict ever changing soil was his interpretation of the cyclicality of the world and the entropy of life.

Property From an Important European Collector


Nuancements au sol (Texturologie XLIII)

oil on canvas
81.4 x 100.5 cm (32 x 39 5/8 in.)
Signed and dated 'J. Dubuffet 58' upper right. Further signed, titled and dated 'J. Dubuffet "Nuancements au sol, texturologie XLIII" Mai 58' on the reverse.

£180,000 - 250,000 ‡ ♠

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
+44 207 318 4063

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 27 June 2016