Jean Dubuffet in his studio, Venice, 1964 Photo: © Archives Fondation Dubuffet / Max Loreau
Pablo Picasso, Still Life with Chair Caning, 1911, Musée National Picasso, Paris, France, Art © 2020 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

A masterful maelstrom of kaleidoscopic line and form, Pendule IV (Flamboiement de l'heure) embodies the raw, poetic intensity of Jean Duffet's Art Brut aesthetic and typifies his highly acclaimed, longest enduring series: L'Hourloupe. One of the most influential artists of the Twentieth Century, Dubuffet rejected the conformism and restrictions of mainstream artistic production in favor of promulgating 'raw art' uninhibited by the mandates of academic fine art painting. Abandoning the constraints of representational painting, Dubuffet's amorphous colors and shapes meticulously intertwine to form a perpetual maze; a clock that is dichotomously balanced between figuration and abstraction, form and fantasy. Executed in 1966, the present work marks the zenith of Dubuffet’s Ustensiles Utopiques series, in which he celebrated the manufactured mundane objects of everyday life in his signature Hourloupe style, set against the black backdrop. A testament to the importance of the Ustensiles Utopiques cycle, works from the series are held in the collections of the Centre Pompidou, Paris and the Louisiana Museum of Art, Denmark, Musée Cantini, France.

Fernand Léger, Exit the Ballets Russes, 1914
Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Art © 2020 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

The legendary creative genesis of the Hourloupe paintings began with a simplistic doodle in ballpoint pen that Dubuffet scrawled mindlessly on a scrap of paper as he spoke on the telephone. The jigsaw puzzle of red, white and blue against the dark backdrop simultaneously pays homage to Dubuffet's French heritage and is an iconic representation of ineffable beauty the Hourloupe series achieved through bewilderingly simple medium and form. Ballpoint pens are the modern man’s writing utensils, by elevating the anonymous medium to high art through quotidian objects, Dubuffet depicts an unparalleled testament to the ideational tenets of Art Brut. As art critic Peter Schjeldahl describes, "If Dubuffet teaches anything, it is that there are no conclusions, and no true beginnings, either. There is only the middle, the presentness of life… Beyond that, his great gift is to make the reality of this all-consuming torrent palpable, and to make it seem a cause of joy rather than terror." (Peter Schjeldahl, Dubuffet, 1980 in: The Hydrogen Jukebox: Selected writings of Peter Schjeldahl, 1978-1990, New York, June, 1980 p. 60) Dubuffet endows the canvas with an unparalleled sense of vitality through illustrating the imagination of his subconscious. A triumph testament to his desire for raw art, pure unbridled creativity, Pendule IV (Flamboiement de l'heure) becomes a dynamic abstraction, entrancing and evocative in its perplexingly complex simplicity.

Jean Dubuffet, Le Train de Pendules, 1965
Musee National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
Art © 2020 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
“For Dubuffet [l’Hourloupe] is a ‘festival of the mind’, luminous, brilliant, sparkling, and continual. In it Dubuffet seeks an uninterrupted and uniform writing that brings everything to the frontal plane. It represents the wanderings of the thought processes, a mental and neuronal vision of the world, a vision of the real world that never stops questioning.”
Valérie da Costa and Fabrice Hergott, Jean Dubuffet: Works, Writings and Interviews, Michigan 2007, p. 77

Salvador Dali, The Persistence of Memory, 1931, Museum of Modern Art, New York
Art © 2020 Salvador Dalí, Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Dubuffet illustrates a quotidian object, the clock, in a powerfully imaginative undulating web of polychromatic lines and geometric shapes, questioning not only the historical restrictions of rendering a still life, but also offers a new alluring, abstracted way of seeing. When asked about the fanciful name of the series, L'Hourloupe, Dubuffet revealed that the title was "based upon its sound. In French, these sounds suggest some wonderland or grotesque object or creature, while at the same time they evoke something rumbling and threatening with tragic overtones. Both are implied." (Jean Dubuffet quoted in: Exh. Cat., New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Jean Dubuffet: A Retrospective, 1973, p. 35) Using a deliberately reduced palette and
unadorned lines, Dubuffet channels the tenets of Art Brut -elevating the strange and uncanny- creating art radically outside of orthodox academic methods. Brilliantly vibrant against the black background, the cells of red and blue form a cellular map, intertwining like the pattern of DNA, they create a fantastical mirror of the world through Dubuffet's distinct pictorial style. Executed in 1966, the apogee of his most enduring series, Pendule IV (Flamboiement de l'heure), the flare of the hour, encapsulates Dubuffet's vision of representing recognizable domestic objects through an abstracted lens. Revolutionizing preconceived notions of aesthetic perception, Pendule IV (Flamboiement de l'heure) pulsates with a captivating energy that perfectly characterizes the exuberant and spontaneous spirit of Dubuffet's utopian utensils.