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PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE COLLECTION

Jean Dubuffet
CORTÈGE PRIME-SAUTE
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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.
1,000,0001,500,000
LOT SOLD. 1,635,000 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
10

PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE COLLECTION

Jean Dubuffet
CORTÈGE PRIME-SAUTE
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.
Artist's Resale Right
Purchase of lots marked with this symbol will be subject to the payment of the artist's resale right.
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.
1,000,0001,500,000
LOT SOLD. 1,635,000 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

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London

Jean Dubuffet
1901 - 1985
CORTÈGE PRIME-SAUTE
signed and dated 65; signed, titled and dated Octobre 65 on the reverse
oil on canvas
96.9 by 129.7 cm. 31 1/8 by 51 in.
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Provenance

Galerie Beyeler, Basel
Pierre de Montbas, Paris
Private Collection, Europe (acquired from the above in winter 1969)
Thence by descent to the present owner

Exhibited

Basel, Galerie Beyeler, Jean Dubuffet, February - April 1968, no. 14 

Literature

Max Loreau, Catalogue des travaux de Jean Dubuffet, fascicule XXI: L’Hourloupe II (1964-1966), Paris 1968, p. 104, no. 174, illustrated

Catalogue Note

“For Dubuffet [l’Hourloupe] is a ‘festival of the mind’, luminous, brilliant, sparkling, and continual. In it Dubuffet seeks an uninterrupted and uniform writing that brings everything to the frontal plane. It represents the wanderings of the thought processes, a mental and neuronal vision of the world, a vision of the real world that never stops questioning.” 

Valérie da Costa and Fabrice Hergott, Jean Dubuffet: Works, Writings and Interviews, Michigan 2007, p. 77

Executed within the last two decades of Jean Dubuffet’s life, Cortège prime-saute forms an enigmatic part of the French artist’s paradigm-shifting l’Hourloupe series. One of the longest and most celebrated cycles of his career, the Hourloupe paintings were first conceived in the summer of 1962 when, whilst speaking on the telephone, Dubuffet absent-mindedly produced a fluid drawing in red and blue ballpoint pen on paper with his free hand while the other held the receiver. This instantiated what was arguably the Art Brut pioneer’s most recognised and acclaimed visual dialect. While some examples of l’Hourloupe, such as Le Train des Vacants, 1965, represent a logical extension of Dubuffet’s preceding Paris Circus series of 1961-1962 - comprising all-over, jubilant eulogies to street festivals and urban dance - others, including the present work, build upon Dubuffet’s longstanding interest in portraiture to create works which seem to magically and mysteriously morph from the figurative into a pure and vibrant abstraction. Just as the human figures in the Paris Circus are gradually enveloped by unstoppable swathes of colour, the biomorphic shapes of Cortège prime-saute at once suggest the entwining outlines of various personages, and revel in the sheer two-dimensionality of the picture plane. Its title translates loosely to ‘Procession, first jumps’: indeed, with its ebullient forms and richly saturated palette, Cortège prime-saute presents a joyful expression of uncontrolled impulses and liberated thought.

In reducing his palette to red, white and blue against a black background for the Hourloupe series, Dubuffet simultaneously pays homage to his motherland, and encapsulates the career-defining quality of his oeuvre: an ineffable beauty achieved through bewilderingly simple materials. With a sense of perpetual evolution and mutual communication, hundreds of visual motifs combine in Cortège prime-saute to evoke at once the wanderings of the unconscious mind and an enlightened perspective free from ‘civilising’ and falsifying gestalts. As the artist himself proclaimed, “Have we lost our joy in celebrating the arbitrary and the fantastic? Are we interested only in self-improvement? Would it not be legitimate, for once at least… to forget truth, to succumb to the vagaries of errors and pitfalls and to take pleasure in cultivating our function as drunken dancers?” (Jean Dubuffet cited in: Exh. Cat., Salzburg, Museum der Moderne, (and travelling), Jean Dubuffet, 2003, p. 14). Just as the often deliberately restricted palettes of Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning grant their works an unrivalled formal power, the bewitching, teeming coral reef we see within the amorphous forms of Cortège prime-saute depend on Dubuffet’s deft manipulation of his aptly-chosen colour scheme. Not only does Dubuffet achieve staggeringly varied chromatic nuances within his media, but, in employing such a restricted palette he positions himself in the optimal place from which to explore the forms generated by the unconscious: a mainstay in his work and one of the driving forces of his aesthetic. 

Channelling the precepts of Art Brut, which sought to elevate the strange, the outcast and the outsider over academic methods and art world norms, Cortège prime-saute is a perfect encapsulation of the artist's unique and enthralling pictorial syntax. Dubuffet’s neologism ‘hourloupe’ recalls both the French verbs ‘hurler’ and ‘hululer’ meaning ‘to roar’ and ‘to hoot’ respectively as well as the word ‘loup’, the French noun for ‘wolf’. It was, however, precisely the sound of the word that appealed most emphatically to the artist, who explained: “this ‘Hourloupe’ term is a noun invented on account of its phonetics. In French, it evokes a character who’s at once somewhat enchanting and grotesque; a kind of tragic, growling, lumbering figure” (Jean Dubuffet cited in: Daniel Abadie, ‘La création du monde’ in: Exh. Cat., Paris, Centre Pompidou, Jean Dubuffet, 2001, p. 244). Pulsating with energy and mesmerising to behold, Cortège prime-saute exemplifies the vital, jubilant and spontaneous spirit of Dubuffet’s mature style.

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

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London