PARIS - Seven years in the country can change a man. Midi sonne grelot by Dubuffet to be sold at Sotheby’s Paris sale of Contemporary Art is part of the artist’s Paris Circus cycle, a veritable ode to the city upon his triumphant return. He had exhausted nature. He had plundered the gardens of Venice to make his Assemblages, ploughed the fields to create his Materiologies and his Texturologies. Dubuffet felt an irrepressible need to be back in the capital.

Paris has stimulated artists for centuries and for Dubuffet the city supplied an exhaustive source of inspiration: from building façades, shop windows and signs to Parisians strolling along the banks of the Seine or motorists driving down the grand boulevards. Like an anthropologist who minutely studies a remote society’s way of life, Dubuffet was enthusiastic about everything.

JEAN DUBUFFET, MIDI SONNE GRELOT, 1961. ESTIMATE €2,500,000–3,500,000.

In Midi sonne grelot, from 1961, the artist presents a joyful band of people against an urban twilight. Dazed, solitary passers-by cross paths with manically grimacing fashion victims, while a dandy with a hat is followed by a band of street urchins.

The technique of painting is radical and probably draws on Jackson Pollock. For the artist, accident constitutes the heart of his art and he willingly admitted  “that this tendency that animates me is due to my desire for a work of art to be in no way falsified by each person’s mental life, as it is reflected immediately without revision or control, without the intervention of judgment.”

Midi sonne grelot also stands out for its exceptional provenance as it comes from the gallery of the collector and art dealer Daniel Cordier who collected Dubuffet early in the artist’s career. This cycle is both atypical and immediately identifiable by its colours, spontaneity and lively atmosphere. Paris Circus has become a series sought-after by the biggest public and private collections of the world, from the collection of the Musée d’Art Moderne to the walls of the MoMA and the National Gallery of Art in Washington via the Beyeler, Louis Vuitton or Gandur Foundations in Europe.