11
11

PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE COLLECTION

Jean Dubuffet
POMMETTES ROUGES
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. 1,270,000 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
11

PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE COLLECTION

Jean Dubuffet
POMMETTES ROUGES
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. 1,270,000 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
London

Jean Dubuffet
1901 - 1985
POMMETTES ROUGES
signed and dated 58; signed, titled and dated avril 58 on the reverse
oil on canvas
81 by 100 cm. 31 7/8 by 39 3/8 in.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Galerie Daniel Cordier, Frankfurt
Private Collection, Europe (acquired from the above in 1959)
Thence by descent to the present owner

Literature

Max Loreau, Catalogue des travaux de Jean Dubuffet, fascicule XIII: Célébrations du sol I, lieux cursifs, texturologies, topographies (1957-1958), Lausanne 1969, p. 132, no. 193, illustrated

Catalogue Note

Comprising a wonderfully textured surface inimitable to Jean Dubuffet’s late 1950s output, Pommettes Rouges is an exquisite example of the artist’s Art Brut ideology that marks a key moment in the career of this post-war master. Turning his back on urban life, Dubuffet eschewed the Parisian metropolis during the mid-1950s in favour of the simple life of rural France. He settled in Vence in 1955 and with this focussed his attention on agricultural life, homing in on the elemental stuff of existence as a means to achieve a more primal symbiosis with the natural world. The body of work that followed put forth a vision of raw landscape populated by figures and animals, or devoid of both, articulated in his archetypally naïf or ‘rough’ manner. For these works Dubuffet’s incorporation of non-normative materials into his pigments, such as gravel and sand, engendered a corpus of densely impastoed ‘topographies’ of heightened natural veracity. Including the present painting, the works produced during this period comprise the most rebellious, innovative, and revolutionary of his entire production; examples of which today reside in the most prestigious of museum collections worldwide.

The four red-cheeked and happy figures that inhabit Pommettes Rouges appear as a jovial band of brothers at one within the flat perspectiveless expanse of raw earth that contains them. Compounding Dubuffet’s style of execution, the smiling countenances and bright blue eyes of these youthful individuals conjure an idyllic past, before the arrival of a mechanised industrial age and the onset of war. This painting is bittersweet: imbued with nostalgia, it is replete with reminiscence for a bygone era and a simpler time. Although punctuated by apple-like bursts of red on the figures’ cheeks, the predominant monochromatic palette of this painting undoubtedly conjures a winter scene. The speckling of white, black and pale earthy pigments set the seasonal tone of this painting and herein call to mind Pieter Brueghel the Elder’s canonical genre scene Hunters in the Snow (1565). Aligned with Breughel’s painting, which portrays peasant-life during the winter months, Dubuffet’s scene of figures in the snow is similarly provincial, revelling in the simplicity of the countryside in which humanity and nature share harmonic equilibrium. Indeed, as redolent in the organic nature of Dubuffet’s use and application of paint, the present work teems with the artist’s enthusiasm for the primal substance of the earth: the soil.

Dubuffet’s relocation away from Paris was spurred by a desire to focus on the most unpretentious and unassuming subject matter for his paintings; an impetus that celebrated the quotidian and somewhat mundane aspects of rural life. Conceived as ‘forgotten landscapes’ or a view of the natural world that had been ignored or disparaged, Dubuffet’s work between 1955 and 1959 embodies a sequence of distinct, though interconnected and overlapping, series focussed on a distinctly unheroic and unmagisterial depiction of ‘the land’. Using various strategies and materials Dubuffet created abstract collage works that incorporated organic plant matter (Elements Botaniques), compositions that utilised synthetic materials such as metal foil (Matériologies), and paintings of entirely flat and nebulous pictorial detail (Texturologies). Familiar to all of these works was Dubuffet’s disavowal of the grand landscape genre, instead choosing to focus on the matter beneath his feet. Together, these works have been collectively defined as a ‘celebration of the soil’ and portray all-consuming Jackson Pollock-esque patches of ground as though viewed from above. Having distanced himself from the urban metropolis, Dubuffet focused his energies on this simple embrace of nature and for him the soil was emblematic of the most primal and pure forms of earthly being. As the artist wrote in 1959: “A roadway free of any unevenness or peculiarity, a dirty floor, a bare and dusty terrain, that no one would ever dream of looking – at least deliberately – (and much less in painting) – are reaches of intoxication and jubilation for me” (Jean Dubuffet cited in: Mildred Glimcher and Jean Dubuffet, Jean Dubuffet: Towards an Alternate Reality, New York 1987, p. 167). Beyond this however, soil provided Dubuffet with an aesthetic model that dissipated traditional divisions between form and formlessness, object and space.

Of the works created in 1958, Pommettes Rouges stands out for its strong figurative composition. Painted on 1st April 1958 amidst Dubuffet’s focus on all-out abstraction, Pommettes Rouges appears in the artist’s catalogue raisonné sandwiched between major iterations of the Texturologies. Nonetheless, the flattened perspective, almost monochromatic palette, and delicate layering-up of paint, is entirely in keeping with the abstract planar compositions of this boundless and pictorially inchoate series. Akin to the Texturologies this painting teems with matter and sparkles with natural verve; its ground could just as easily represent an infinite galaxy or nebula as a snow covered field in rural France. Incised and embedded into this matter and situated under a shallow skyline, the poignant reddened-cheeked individuals thus pin-point the very heart of Dubuffet’s truly radical, ingenious, and lifelong interrogation of the relationship between figure and ground.

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
London