Lot 151
  • 151


250,000 - 350,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Jean Fautrier
  • Chipie
  • signed and dated 55
  • oil and pastel on plaster on card laid down on canvas
  • 73 by 54 cm. 28 3/4 by 21 1/4 in.


Sami Tarica, Paris
A gift from the above to the present owner


Cologne, Galerie Thomas Borgmann; Hambourg, Galerie Nuendorf, Jean Fautrier, Ölbilder 1925-1959, October - December 1976, n.p., no. 10, illustrated in colour
Lugano, Musée Cantonal, Da Kandinsky à Pollock la Vertigine Della Non-Forma, November 2001 - January 2002, p. 121, illustrated in colour


Palma Bucarelli, Jean Fautrier Pittura e Materia, Verona 1960, p. 330, no. 228, illustrated
Yves Peyré, Fautrier ou les Outrages de l'Impossible, Paris 1990, p. 259, illustrated in colour

Catalogue Note

Jean Fautrier's Chipie is a superlative work belonging to the corpus of paintings succeeding the Otages (Hostages); the body of work which truly cemented the artist's reputation as a formidable and important practitioner. Representing a remarkable conflation of abstract lyricism and intense melancholia, the present work stands as a truly stunning response to human embodiment and experience in the post-war period. Executed in 1955, Chipie can be read as a precursor to Fautrier’s later Hostages paintings; a theme he revisited following The Hungarian Revolution in 1956, in which thousands of Partisans were massacred and hundreds of thousands more fled as refugees. In repudiating the canon of cool geometric abstraction with its detachment from immediate reality, Fautrier and Art Informel opened an artistic dialogue entrenched in visceral materiality and directly tied to raw human experience. In the present work, the thickly textured suggestion of a head lays prostrate and powerless; the hieroglyphs of suffering baring the trace of a fractured and scarred corporeality. The ovoid structure occupying the centre of the picture plane is rendered in fleshy tones, surrounded by a sea of diluted azure. Via his developed technique of Haute Pâte or Matter Painting, Fautrier conjures a direct sensory and physical experience, a reality founded in material tension. Strongly influenced by Art Brut and together with artists such as Jean Dubuffet and Wols, Fautrier pursued an improvisatory methodology and highly gestural technique freed from the conventions of classical easel painting.

The technique was achieved by a rejection of canvas painting; instead Fautrier worked the Haute Pâte onto paper which would then be laid on canvas using a spatula. As outlined by the artist: "The canvas is now merely a support for the paper. The thick paper is covered with sometimes thick layers of a plaster – the picture is painted on this moist paper – this plaster makes the paint adhere to the paper perfectly – it has the virtue of fixing the colours in powder, crushed pastels, gouache, ink, and also oil paint – it is above all thanks to these coats of plaster that the mixture can be produced so well and the quality of the matter is achieved" (Jean Fautrier cited in: Karen Butler, 'Fautrier's First Critics: André Malrauz, Jean Paulhan and Francis Ponge', London 2002, pp. 43-44). It is to this end that Fautrier considered himself a sculptor rather than a painter, carving and moulding his teasingly tangible surfaces to achieve spectral luminosity and raw presence.

Through a mournful testament to the worst betrayals of mankind, the poetic relation between the thick crackled strata and the delicate pastel tones posit Chipie as among the most poignantly elegant of Fautrier's distinguished oeuvre.