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Jean Dubuffet
LOISIR
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Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
700,000900,000
LOT SOLD. 1,452,500 USD
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124
Jean Dubuffet
LOISIR
Estimate
Irrevocable Bids
Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
700,000900,000
LOT SOLD. 1,452,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Day Auction

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New York

Jean Dubuffet
1901 - 1985
LOISIR
signed with the artist's initials and dated 80; titled and dated Déc.'80 on the reverse
acrylic on canvas
39 3/8 by 31 3/4 in. 100 by 80.7 cm.
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Provenance

The Pace Gallery, New York
Private Collection, New York (acquired from the above in May 1981)
Sotheby's, New York, 15 November 2006, Lot 216
Michelle Rosenfeld Gallery, New York (acquired from the above sale)
Private Collection, New York 
Acquired from the above by the present owner

Exhibited

New York, The Pace Gallery, Jean Dubuffet: Partitions 1980-81, Psycho-sites 1981, December 1982 - January 1983
New York, Michelle Rosenfeld Gallery, Winter Group Show, December 2006 - March 2007

Literature

Max Loreau, Ed., Catalogue des Travaux de Jean Dubuffet, Fascicule XXXIII: Sites aux Figurines Partitions, Paris 1982, cat. no. 230, p. 94, illustrated

Catalogue Note

"I have tried to draw the human effigy (and all the other subjects dealt with in my paintings) in an immediate and effective way without any reference to the aesthetic." Jean Dubuffet 

Jean Dubuffet's, Loisir vibrates with colorful energy sparking a visual conversation between the viewer and the ten figures as they interact both within and beyond the borders of the canvas. Late in Dubuffet’s career he was fascinated by theatre and viewed it as a domain for the exploration of the collective memory of the spectators—a constructed scenario where the same presented fact could be interpreted in a multitude of ways according to each audience member’s personal history. Dubuffet explained, “One must not confuse what the eyes apprehend with what happens when the mind takes it in. In any single instant the eyes see only a side facing them, they converge on a small field. The mind totalizes; it recapitulates all the fields; it makes them dance together...Perhaps we live in a world invented by ourselves” (the artist cited in Mildred Glimcher, Ed., Jean Dubuffet: Towards an Alternative Reality, New York 1987, p. 19). 

In 1955, Dubuffet left the war-scarred and melancholy city of Paris to live in the South of France. During this period, and exemplified by the Texturologies and Matériologies series, Dubuffet shunned any sense of human presence from his work and turned to nature as the primary source of his investigations. When he returned to the French capital in 1961, there was a change in Dubuffet’s work that marked a completely new departure in contrast to his explorations of the tactile qualities of organic material in the remoteness of rural life in Vence. In a revitalized Paris, Dubuffet found a city completely different to the one he had left; optimism and cosmopolitan bustle had replaced the gloom and despondency that had formerly prevailed under German occupation and in the post-war years. This new vibrant atmosphere was intoxicating for Dubuffet and had an immediate, explosive effect on his work, culminating in the exuberant Paris Circus pictures of 1961-1962. Where he had celebrated life on a minute scale in the countryside, he used his brush to celebrate humanity on a grand scale, transforming this energetic spirit into the subject of his art.

Loisir is a vibrant example of Art Brut, which came to define Dubuffet’s rather raw, expressive approach to painting. Dubuffet strips away all recognizable signs of landscape and city-life, instead allowing the kaleidoscopic figures in reds, blues, yellows, and shades of white to connect like a jigsaw puzzle. The work's title, Loisir, translates to "leisure," firmly locating it within an art historical tradition of portraying figures in a city—often members of the city's bourgeoisie—in their off-duty habitats, enjoying all that life has to give. Much like Seurat’s Sunday on the Grande Jatte there is an instinctual desire as viewers to understand who each person is and how they relate to one another; therefore inventing a world beyond the canvas. The distinct groupings of figures within Loisir remain autonomous yet dynamically interact through suggestive facial expressions, gestures and emotively rooted choices in color. The figures, as in most of Dubuffet’s oeuvre, have subtle individual identities that represent the mass of humanity and have little association with traditional notions of classical figurative art. Just as Seurat's iconic painting captures a moment of respite for the Parisian elite on the banks of the Seine River, so too does Dubuffet's Loisir present Parisians in a recreational moment, though completely stripped of any and all recognizable locations. Loisir expands even further beyond these themes also painted by artists such as Pablo Picasso and Fernand Léger who explored the relationship between figures both within the confines of an interior and within vast landscapes. 

Dubuffet was the first among a group of post-war artists to dismiss repressive convention and nurtured the concept of Art Informel, a spontaneous art that rejected any effect of harmony or beauty in a bid to break free of tradition. Dubuffet saw no limits to the expressive potential of painting—the figures are woven together yet remain completely isolated, forcing the viewer to explore and re-explore the dynamic scenario unfolding before their eyes.

Contemporary Art Day Auction

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New York