- Jean Dubuffet
- Théâtre Des Errements III
- signed with the artist's initials and dated 63
- gouache on paper
- 19 5/8 by 26 1/4 in. 49.8 by 66.7 cm.
Collection of Victor K. Kiam, New York
Niveau Gallery, New York
Private Collection, New York
By descent to the present owner
Andreas Franzke, Dubuffet, New York, 1981, p. 170, illustrated
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In regard to this freeing of the viewer’s mind, Théâtre Des Errements III is such a significant piece among the Hourloupe series given the stimulating tension it creates by anxiously teetering on the brink of absolute cognizant liberty and utter frenzied confusion. Executed free-hand and free-mind, the red and black snaking contours and the Breton-striped hatching forms a plethora of distorted composite figures and abstract puzzle pieces. The abstruse and hermetically impenetrable maze of organic yet deliberate shapes converges to create this “threatening” state that Dubuffet refers to in 1972. The frenetic density of Théâtre Des Errements III’s chaotic composition is heightened further by the flattened perspectival plane and its cropped, all-over format – a compositional device of Japanese woodblock prints employed by the Impressionist artists such as Monet and Degas, and ultimately embodied the raw and unfettered vision of Art Brut that informed Dubuffet's entire oeuvre. Before the celebrated Hourloupe series, Dubuffet had combined a rejection of all classical notions of perspective with inspiration from various groups of outsiders – the insane, prisoners, children and the primitive – and an almost Fauvist use of colors as the basis for his visual language.
Bustling with energy, the jagged, impulsive lines that dart around the composition define the enthusiastic heartbeat and joie de vivre of Parisian existence that Dubuffet had witnessed on his return to the French capital after a break of several years in the countryside at Vence. Unlike the familiar, regimented red-blue-white-black combination of Dubuffet’s later Hourloupe works, Théâtre Des Errements III is rendered in a celebratory palette of bright hues, with both a refined simplicity and an unconscious spontaneity that oozes with vitality. The feverish lines and fickle hatching, along with expressive coloring, reiterate the fact that this is one of the ripest examples of Dubuffet’s Hourloupe series. Six years after being painted, in a letter to Arnold Glimcher, Dubuffet refers to his “uninterrupted and resolutely uniform meandering script…[which] will thereby dissolve the categories which our mind habitually employs to decipher…the facts and spectacles of the world. Herewith the circulation of the mind from one object to another, from one category to another will be liberated and its mobility greatly increased.” (the artist in a letter to Arnold Glimcher, 1969) Implicit in this evaluation is the notion of utter absorption, visually and psychically, within the painted surface, a sensation that is inescapable when confronting the present work and the essence of Théâtre Des Errements III.