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PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE COLLECTION

Jean Dubuffet
L'ÉCRASEUR DE FLEUR
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900,0001,200,000
LOT SOLD. 1,575,000 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
13

PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE COLLECTION

Jean Dubuffet
L'ÉCRASEUR DE FLEUR
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.
900,0001,200,000
LOT SOLD. 1,575,000 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

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London

Jean Dubuffet
1901 - 1985
L'ÉCRASEUR DE FLEUR
signed and dated 59; signed, titled and dated Julliet 1959 on the reverse
oil on paper collage laid down on canvas
99.5 by 76.8 cm. 39 1/8 by 30 1/4 in.
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Provenance

Galerie Daniel Cordier, Paris
Private Collection, Europe (acquired from the above in February 1961)
Thence by descent to the present owner

Literature

Max Loreau, Catalogue des travaux de Jean Dubuffet, fascicule XIV : Célébrations du sol II, texturologies, topographies (1958-1959), Lausanne 1969, p. 122, no. 196, illustrated
Andreas Franzke, Dubuffet, New York 1981, p. 120, illustrated

Catalogue Note

Hailing from an esteemed private collection where it has remained since its acquisition in 1961, L’écraseur des fleurs is a spectacular example of Dubuffet’s remarkable corpus of collage works. Individually painted and textured oil paintings on paper, cut down into an inventory of random shapes and sizes, are adhered to the surface of the canvas, arranged like puzzle pieces which create a mosaic of colour and texture, emulating the variegated surfaces of those found in nature through layering and accumulation. Executed in Vence in the autumn of 1959, L’écraseur de fleur belongs to the final series of figurative paintings created by Dubuffet before he returned to Paris and began the celebrated Paris Circus series in February 1961. It draws upon Dubuffet’s use of collage techniques in his Tableaux d’assemblages from 1955-57 and combines it with the intense interrogation of nature and texture of his Matériologies; a series he commenced in tandem with the present work and continued until his return to Paris in December 1960. Exquisitely rendered and immensely rare, L’écraseur de fleur is a masterpiece from Dubuffet oeuvre of the late 1950s, one of only five figurative collages from 1959 and unquestionably one of the strongest. It is a work that showcases Dubuffet’s intense experimentation with materials and his focus on the natural world, whilst also foreshadowing his return to Paris by highlighting the violence of man’s interaction with his environment.

For Dubuffet, an artist who lived through both World Wars and their ensuing destruction, peace-time countryside provided a safe haven, a refuge from the distractions and brutality of the city. In 1955 the artist first left Paris for Vence and began to create work that focussed on the textures of naturally occurring phenomena found in the soil and topography of the land. The naïf compositions that began emerging in Dubuffet’s work extended his dialogue with Art Brut and began merging figure and landscape, thus implying a fundamental connection between man and his environment. By 1959, the year of the present work’s execution, the artist's simplicity of media and wholehearted embrace of nature had reached its climax. With a decided move away from the artificial and the urbane, and a heightened sensitivity to the world around him, in 1957 Dubuffet exclaimed: “Look at what lies at your feet! A crack in the ground, sparkling gravel, a tuft of grass, some crushed debris, offer equally worthy subjects for your applause and admiration” (Jean Dubuffet, ‘Empreints’ in: Herschel B. Chipp Ed. Theories of Modern Art: A Source Book for Artists and Critics, Berkeley 1968, p. 611).

The start of Dubuffet's experimentation with unorthodox materials and techniques first began when, following a trip to the Savoie with Pierre Bettencourt in 1953, the artist produced small collages from butterfly wings. This use of organic material in his flat works reached a climax with the Elements Botaniques, compositions entirely comprised of leaf and plant matter, which like the present work, also date from the last phase of Dubuffet’s time in Vence. As a result, L’écraseur des fleurs  – which displays a form of figuration entirely absent from the Matériologies and utilises the same collage facture as the Tableaux d’assemblages – should be seen as part of a small series of works that constitute the pinnacle of Dubuffet's interrogation of the natural world and man’s place within it. Even its title, which literally means ‘the crusher of flowers’, is a play on man’s impact on his environment, and provides a springboard for the ensuing Paris Circus paintings in which the artist celebrated his return to the cosmopolitan hubbub of Paris. Indeed, just as the process of collage is at once generative and destructive, the Écraseur is a destroyer of nature who at once revels in, and relies upon, its presence.

The juxtaposition of destruction and creation inherent in the dismemberment and recycling of paintings to create something altogether new appealed to Dubuffet immensely, and provided the foundation for much of his later work. Indeed, assemblage, a term that Dubuffet himself coined to describe his own work as well as that of artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, Joseph Cornell, Bruce Conner and Ed Kienholz, is a pithy summation of Dubuffet’s overarching artistic practice, which constantly sought rich and pictorially inventive effects via the chance juxtapositions of his technique.

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

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London