Lot 131
  • 131

Jean Dubuffet

400,000 - 600,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Jean Dubuffet
  • Groupe de Quatre Arbres (état définitif)
  • each inscribed A, B, C, and D respectively on the underside
  • epoxy paint on polyurethane, in 4 parts
  • 37 7/8 by 39 by 34 in. 96 by 99.1 by 86.4 cm.
  • Executed in 1970.


Gift of the artist


Frankfurt, Schirn Kunstalle, Jean Dubuffet 1901-1985, December 1990 - March 1991, cat. no. 218, p. 183, illustrated (another example exhibited)
New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Jean Dubuffet: A Retrospective, 1973, cat. no. 289, pp. 284-285, illustrated (another example exhibited)


Max Loreau, ed., Catalogue des Travaux de Jean Dubuffet, Fascicule XXV: Arbres, Murs, Architectures, Lausanne, 1974, cat. no. 106, p. 107, illustrated
Exh. Cat., New York, The Pace Gallery, J. Dubuffet, Recent Work 1974-1976, 1977 (illustration of the monumental version)
Exh. Cat., Berlin, Akademie der Künste (and travelling), Dubuffet Retrospektive, 1980, cat. no. 284, p. 255 (illustration of the monumental version)
Dominique Wahiche, J. Dubuffet, Dessins Peintures 1942-1983, Paris, 1984, p. 30 (illustration of the monumental version)
Margaret Potter, ed., The David and Peggy Rockefeller Collection, New York, 1984, p. 63, illustrated
Mildred Glimcher, Jean Dubuffet, Towards an Alternative Reality, New York, 1987, p. 247 (illustration of the monumental version)
Valérie de Costa and Fabrice Hergott, Jean Dubuffet, Works, Writings and Interviews, Barcelona, 2006, p. 107 (illustration in color of the monumental version)

Catalogue Note

The present work, Groupe de Quatre Arbres from 1970 belongs Dubuffet's acclaimed Hourloupe cycle series from 1962 to 1974. The works created during this period resemble familiar objects and forms and yet these works recall a fantastical parallel universe where the line between the real and the imaginary is blurred. The figures and objects of the Hourloupe cycle all emulate an existing reality or an everyday object. Dubuffet referred to them as a reflection of the tangible as it appears in the mind. It is in this context that one should experience Groupe de Quatre Arbes.

A large scale version for which the present work is a maquette was commissioned and funded in 1969 by David Rockefeller for the plaza of the Chase Manhattan building in lower Manhattan. The commission came after 10 years of artists’ proposals. It wasn’t until 1969 that the committee in charge of selecting a sculpture for the Plaza visited the artist’s atelier. They were quickly convinced that Dubuffet’s sculptures “had a lightness, a gaiety, and a movement which might provide a good contrast with the austere aluminum-and-glass lines of the building.” (David Rockefeller, The David and Peggy Rockefeller Collection, Vol. 1, New York, 1984, p. 62). The defining moment took place with David Rockefeller visited Dubuffet’s studio in Périgny-sur-Yerres and selected an earlier model of the sculpture. The massive sculpture towering at 40 feet was revealed on October 24th, 1972 and to this day remains a landmark of downtown New York.

Today, three maquettes, each one twelfth of the size of the grand Groupe de Quatre Arbres, exist. One was gifted by the artist to Daniel Weidlinger, the principal engineer who collaborated with Dubuffet in the massive sculpture. The other, the present work, was gifted to David Rockefeller and has remained in his collection until today. The third version of this maquette remains with the Fondation Dubuffet. The four trees expand as if bursting out of the pages of a sketchbook. Like the works in the Hourloupe cycle, they allude to trees but instead resemble clouds of black and white doodles. They transport the viewer into a jungle, a forest or an oasis—a haven to the busy cosmopolis of the late 1960s urban life. Two of the three maquettes that resulted from this spectacular and historic commission were reflections of the artist's gratitude to two figures that were integral to his first monumental creation.