Details & Cataloguing

French Cancan by Natalie Seroussi


Jean Dubuffet
1901 - 1985
signed and dated 65; titled, and dated on the stretcher; inscribed vernis V14  on the reverse
vinyl paint on paper mounted on canvas 
50,4 x 68,7 cm; 19 7/8 x 27 in.
Executed on 20 September 1965.
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Galerie Beyeler, Basel
Waddington Galleries, London
Galerie Jeanne Bucher, Paris
B.C Holland Gallery, Chicago
Maurice et Muriel Fulton Collection, Chicago
Sale: Christie's, New York, Post-War and Contemporary Art Morning Session, 11 November 2015, lot 142
Natalie Seroussi, Paris


Max Loreau, Catalogue des Travaux de Jean Dubuffet, Fascicule XXI: L'Hourloupe II, Lausanne, 1968, p. 97, no. 163, illustrated

Catalogue Note

Not only is Cafetière, tasse et soucoupe, sucrier one of the most emblematic works of Hourloupe, it also perfectly synthetizes this twelve-year long cycle, "so foreign to the gust of wind-behaviors" which, according to Daniel Abadie, led until then Dubuffet to "abandon after a year or two any work which might already have prospects to evolve toward new discoveries". Created in 1965, after the artist decided to use only vinyl-based media to emphasize the arbitrary dimension of color and bring the viewer to a fourth dimension deprived of gravitational system, this iconic work echoes Dubuffet's long-term fascination for the alchemical dynamic of creation.


Determined to tackle creative gesture in a unique polymorphous way, Dubuffet explores through Cafetière, tasse et soucoupe, sucrier a complex web of preferential options and artistic priorities in order to "probe elasticity, to the point of turning this undertaking into the reason of being and the kingpin of his artistic itinerary", as Gloria Moure wrote in the foreword of the exhibition Jean Dubuffet, Exposition du centenaire held at the Centre Pompidou in 2001.


With Cafetière, tasse et soucoupe, sucrier, Dubuffet also gives a unique interpretation of a somewhat classical topic of painting, still life, while keeping an extraordinary independent spirit. As it immediately strikes for the dynamism and vividness of its deliberately intricate composition between abstraction and figuration, Cafetière, tasse et soucoupe, sucrier breaks with conventions. As early as the beginning of the 60s, Dubuffet was indeed more than ever conscious of the importance of the mission he had undertaken: opening a new way, suggesting another reality, making for the first time visible the very principle of the work, as the coffee pot, the cup, the saucer and the sugar bowl here represented are not immediately recognizable. Dubuffet thus forces us to engage in the work to recognize the object: his way to show us that art does not speak to the eyes but to the mind.


In a different way, the all-over drawing style of Cafetière, tasse et soucoupe, sucrier, a juxtaposition of colorful industrial blue, red and white cells enhanced with black, also contributes to a visionary graphic world that inspired the next generations. This dimension of Hourloupe is essential to understand it, since, by renouncing the "execution" that, among other things, prevailed over the "Texturologies" and "Matériologies", for the "programming" of a sort of puzzle, Dubuffet forged a real language: a language that turned down certitudes, but also "antagonistic to culture", alive, radical and wild, endemic, poetical and sensitive, and which deeply impacted the history of art and thinking.

Here is the great contribution of Dubuffet: his demiurgic passion brought him to "substitute to reality a fictional world, both real and mental, which would doom us, as he wished for his own architecture, to live without past, to the oblivion of what we know and the constant experiment of the world" (Daniel Abadie, Ibid)

French Cancan by Natalie Seroussi