Lot 40
  • 40

Jean Dubuffet

1,500,000 - 2,000,000 USD
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  • Jean Dubuffet
  • Conjugaison
  • signed with initials and dated 76; titled and inscribed n. 6 on the reverse
  • acrylic and paper collage mounted on canvas
  • 52 3/8 x 120 in. 133 x 305 cm.
  • Executed in 1975-1976.


Galerie Beyeler, Basel
Waddington Galleries, Ltd., London
William Pall Gallery, New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above in 1977


Dallas, Dallas Museum of Art, Washington D.C., National Gallery of Art, A Century of Modern Sculpture: The Patsy and Raymond Nasher Collection, April 1987 - June 1988, cat. no. 91, p. 107, illustrated in color
San Francisco, Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, California Palace of the Legion of Honor; New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, A Century of Sculpture: The Nasher Collection, October 1996 - June 1997, p. 328 - 329, illustrated in color


Max Loreau, ed., Catalogues des travaux de Jean Dubuffet, fasc. XXXII, Théâtres de Mémoire, Lausanne, 1982, pl. no. 6, pp. 16-17, illustrated (dated 1975)
Robert Wilson, Epitome of Desire: The Story of the Nashers of Texas and one of the World's Greatest Sculpture Collections Created by their Passion and Obsession for the Best, Austin, 2004, n.p., illustrated (detail in installation photograph with Patsy Nasher)

Catalogue Note

Jean Dubuffet's Conjugaison from 1976 is an impressive large-scale collage from the series Le Théâtres de mémoire.  The series was conceived as an exploration of how memory functions versus visual observation.  To achieve this effect, Dubuffet used the technique of assemblage to visually convey the disjointed elements of memory.  Traditional paintings normally present the viewer with a single point of view or a frozen moment in time.  Dubuffet conveyed the multiplicity of images as they exist around us, and the complicated, fluid manner in which we recall them from our memory.  Early in 1975 while working on his figurative series Lieux abrégés, Dubuffet noticed that the sheets of paper he was creating were scattered around in piles on his studio floor.  Inspired by the random arrangement of these figures, he started to work with each one as a separate piece and then melded them into carefully integrated compositions.

Working from a vast inventory of images, Dubuffet's working method permitted him a great spontaneity.  At the same time, these works were also highly labor intensive and required the most painstaking craft in order to realize the final product.  This highly technical process involved Dubuffet lining his studio walls with sheets of metal on which he would attach his images with magnets, and arrived at multiple layers and as many as fifty or so separate pieces.  Dubuffet would then draw a systematic diagram using precise measurements charting the exact placement of each individual element, envisioning the work as it would appear in the final outcome. 

In Conjugaison, 1976, Dubuffet presents the viewer with a schematic arrangement of visual images that do not have a central focus.  Our eyes scavenge the surface, retrieving and attempting to absorb or "conjugate" the mélange of images as the multi-faceted process of memory and seeing is tested.  Bursting with vital energy and frenetic pace, the images we see in Conjugaison of people, places and things meld together to formulate our stew of curiosity.