Jean Dubuffet (French, 1901-1985) Cafetière V 1965

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Lot 5AR
Jean Dubuffet
(French, 1901-1985)
Cafetière V
1965

Sold for £ 442,339 (US$ 609,743) inc. premium
Jean Dubuffet (French, 1901-1985)
Cafetière V
1965

signed and dated déc. 65; signed, titled and dated décembre 65 on the reverse
vinyl paint on paper laid on canvas

104 by 68.8 cm.
40 15/16 by 27 1/16 in.

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Galerie Beyeler, Basel
    Galerie Jeanne Bucher, Paris
    Galerie Burén, Stockholm
    Private Collection, Sweden
    Sale: Sotheby's, London, Contemporary Art Evening Auction, 29 June 2011, Lot 65
    Acquired directly from the above by the present owner

    Exhibited
    Paris, Galerie Jeanne Bucher, Ustensiles, Demeures, Escaliers de Jean Dubuffet, 1967, n.p., no. 6, illustrated in colour

    Literature
    Max Loreau, Catalogue des travaux de Jean Dubuffet: Fascicule XXI: L'Hourloupe II, Paris 1968, p. 115, no. 194, illustrated in black and white



    A signature work by an artist who consistently reinvented painterly aesthetics, broke with convention, and cemented his place as one of the most esteemed figures of Modernist history, Cafetière V is a bravura example of Jean Dubuffet's iconic Hourloupe style. Boldly demonstrative of the artist's utterly unique assemblage of shapes in a flawless spread of colours and hatching, Cafetière V is a museum-quality painting of undeniable prestige and charm.

    Like Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque before him, Dubuffet's Utensiles Utopiques describe the static object with all the animation and panache of his Cubist forebears – whose pedigree can be seen in such works as Picasso's Nature Morte "La Cafetière" (1944), now in the collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Paul Cézanne's still lives – illustrating, through the artist's self-created style, the ingenuity and dexterity of his practice that repudiated the 'stillness' of the object. Cafetière V, fashioned in the quintessential jigsaw of shaded and blotted shapes in the instantly identifiable black, red, white and blue of Hourloupe, is a highly attractive and well-proportioned work from Dubuffet's very limited series of Cafetières; intricately layered and suffused with passages of gestural flair that testify to the artist's virtuosic technique. Preoccupied by translating the landscapes of the mind, Dubuffet's litany of objects that make up the core of his Hourloupe cycle are rendered in an unwavering graphic script or écriture, a visual language through which Dubuffet aimed to secure the emphatic spectacle of his imaginary pictorial world.

    Hugely influential for contemporary artists, designers and architects alike, Dubuffet remains at the forefront of institutional discourse – with his current exhibition of L'Hourloupe paintings on view at Palazzo Franchetti in Venice coinciding with La BiennaleCafetière V is an outstanding painting that is so evocative of his most fertile and innovative phase of production. Globally acclaimed and exhibited, Dubuffet's paintings are held in collections all over the world, including the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, the Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris, the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo.

    Discovering his inimitable style in the 1940s, the artist quickly developed global admiration following his debut in the United States of America at Pierre Matisse Gallery in 1947. Born in La Havre in 1901, Dubuffet left for Paris in 1918, working alongside Fernand Léger and Juan Gris whilst studying at the Académie Julian. Dubuffet, however, already developing his uniquely spirited and rebellious flair, departed his studies prematurely, deeming academy training to be too prescriptive. Inspired by "outsider art," or what he termed Art Brut, he cultivated a style and method that went against the formalities of traditionalism, establishing his meteoric reemergence in the 1940s after being amongst the École de Paris 20 years prior, as a truly groundbreaking artist of the Twentieth Century.

    Commanding an exceptional artistic versatility and skill, Dubuffet's iconic Hourloupe cycle remains one of the French artist's most celebrated styles. Combining his appreciation of Art Brut with the formal, painterly lessons of his preceding Paris Circus works, in addition to the cellularity of his Terres radieuses and Légendes series, Cafetière V is a painting from this most pivotal passage of the artist's career, showing Dubuffet at the height of his artistic powers in the middle of the 1960s and encapsulating the dynamism and radicality of his revival of the still life genre in his Hourloupe period.

    This passage of his practice in the 1960s and 1970s provided Dubuffet with an original and profound aesthetic vocabulary – a formal mechanism through which to negotiate the world as he saw it. For Dubuffet, the subjective experience and intricacies of perception drew him consistently back to Art Brut and his personal collection of art by prisoners, clairvoyants and isolated individuals, which he had begun in 1945, fascinated by the 'purity' of art made free of cultural import. In the artist's own words, "art addresses the mind, and not the eyes. That is how it has always been regarded by "primitive" societies; and they are correct. Art is a language, an instrument of cognition and communication" (the artist in: Jean Dubuffet: Towards an alternative reality: Writings by Jean Dubuffet, New York 1987, p. 7).

    In the totemic power of Cafetière V, illuminated in a shimmering white over the matte black of its background, it is clear to see how L'Hourloupe provided such a pivotal and abundant source of inspiration. Captivated by the world of his newfound style, Dubuffet would go on to produce his Peintures monumentées, Coucou Bazar and Édifices from 1966 onwards; sculptures, stage sets and structures that translated and concretized his elemental écriture into three dimensions. Writer André Pieyre de Mandiargues offered an alternative perspective on L'Hourloupe, "that of 'monde vu à la loupe', the world seen through a magnifying glass [...] it is in this way that the paintings of L'Hourloupe occasionally afford us a view of man as distinct from his social entanglement; so also do they often show us the objects of his industry divorced from their human context" (André Pieyre de Mandiargues, 'The Objects of L'Hourloupe,' trans. Christopher Case, in: Exh. Cat., London, Robert Fraser Gallery, Jean Dubuffet: Recent Paintings, n.p.).

    A painting that eloquently combines Dubuffet's career-spanning interest in the unbridled, pure form of individualistic artistic expression with the unique graphic style of his Hourloupe cycle, Cafetière V is a work made at the peak of the artist's painting practice, mere months before his focus turned to sculpture and architecture for the remainder of the series. It is in his quest for aesthetic equality – applying the same formal method to object and subject alike – that the "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 [...] applied to all things reduces them to a common denominator and restores to us a continuous undifferentiated universe" (the artist in: Op. Cit., p. 15).

    A stand-out painting of attractive proportions from his extremely limited series of distinctive Cafetières that rarely come to market, Cafetière V is a painting of exquisite composition and skill that is one of the best examples of Dubuffet's Hourloupe period. An artist of supreme international appeal, it represents a signature piece by one of the premier artists of the last century.
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Jean Dubuffet (French, 1901-1985) Cafetière V 1965
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