- Jean Dubuffet
- Cafetière, Tasse et Sucrier III
signed, signed with the artist's initials, dated 65 and dedicated à David Sylvester; signed, titled and dated 22 sept. 65 on the reverse
- vinyl paint on canvas
David Sylvester, London
Goldman-Kraft Gallery, Chicago
Basel, Galerie Beyeler, Stillleben im 20. Jahrhundert, 1978-79
"This cycle of work was characterized by a much more seriously arbitrary and irrational mood than anything I had done before. This was a plunge into fantasy, into a phantom parallel universe. My renewed interest in outsider art was no doubt not unconnected with this sudden new development." (The Artist cited in: Exhibition Catalogue, Salzburg, Museum de Moderne; Bilbao, Guggenheim, Jean Dubuffet: Trace of an Adventure, 2003-2004, p. 174)
Dubuffet's L'Hourloupe series manifested itself in the summer of 1962 after the artist began doodling with red and blue ball-point pen whilst on the telephone. It was a strictly two dimensional exploration, without any sense of depth or space, and was soon to incorporate everyday objects and rework the traditional subject of the still life. This series would preoccupy the artist for the following twelve years, leading on from previous anti-academic explorations, most immediately pre-empted by the highly vivacious Paris Circus series. Dubuffet would later realise this exploration through three-dimensional sculpture and through the means of performance.
The Hourloup series saw Dubuffet manipulating the pictorial plane into a more mental and visceral space, thus achieving a total unique rendering of subject using a limited palette unlike any of his contemporaries. Here, in Cafetière, Tasse et Sucrier III, the coffee pot, cup and sugar bowl are almost masked by the elaborate yet simple network of forged misshapen elements; only the subtle black outlines against a slight black background allow the objects to show themselves. The viewer is immersed in this play on shapes and colour, which displays the artist's desire to create a new way of seeing.
The notorious art critic David Sylvester held an internationally acclaimed reputation as one of the leading commentators on 20th Century art, amongst other artistic genres. He was impressed by the raw quality he found in the work of untrained artists such as Dubuffet and said of him in 2004:
''His preoccupation with style arises ... out of his recognition of the decadence of our culture, his feeling that the styles we accept are all played out, his disgust at an art that feeds on art ..., and out of a desire to create an art that might rise above it all, above all the fancy nonsense, in spite of everything.'' (David Sylvester cited on the Tate Modern website www.tate.org.uk)
In clearly dedicating Cafetière, Tasse et Sucrier III to David Sylvester in the lower left of the composition, this painting is an historical commentary on the mutual friendship and respect shared by the two great thinkers, and their acknowledgement of each other's ideas. With its bold execution and immediacy, Dubuffet does not apologise for his utterly original direction.