Lot 34
  • 34

JEAN DUBUFFET | Massif aux Echancres

700,000 - 1,000,000 EUR
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  • Jean Dubuffet
  • Massif aux Echancres
  • signed and dated J.D 71 (lower center); signed and numbered 6 Massif aux échancres (on the reverse)
  • acrylic on canvas laid down on klegecell
  • 143 x 162 cm; 56  1/4  x 63  3/4  in.
  • Painted in 1971.


Galerie Beyeler, Basel
Aberg Gallery, Gothenburg
Sotheby's London, 5 December 1985, lot 411
Private Collection
Christie's London, Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Auction, 16 February 2011, lot 50
Acquired from the above sale by the present owner


Paris, Galerie Jeanne-Bucher, Jean Dubuffet, 1971


Max Loreau, Catalogue des travaux de Jean Dubuffet, fasicule XXVII: Coucou Bazar, Lausanne, 1976, np., no. 6, illustrated, np. (incorrectly illustrated as no. 5, p. 22) 


The colours in the printed catalogue illustration are fairly accurate. The white overall white surface presents some faint wear marks. The extremity of the right edge presents a small inpainting, visible upon close inspection only. Under Ultra Violet Light inspection tiny area of restoration fluoresce throughout the surface in the black and white areas. Under Ultra Violet Light inspection a carefully restored area (approximately 5 cm) is visible along the top edge in the black area. This work is in very good condition.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Executed in 1971, at the height of Jean Dubuffet's most significant and esteemed Hourloupe cycle of works that spanned from 1962 to 1974, Massif aux Echancres presents the apogee to the unparalleled and profoundly influential corpus of one of the most celebrated artists of the twentieth century. The sixth of Dubuffet's shaped canvas works, Massif aux Echancres leads off the volume of the artist's catalogue raisonné dedicated to Coucou Bazar, Dubuffet's theatrical spectacle first presented in the summer of 1973 during his retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, followed by a second version performed in September 1973 at the Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais exhibition in Paris. The culmination of Dubuffet's pictorial ambitions, and the series to which Massif aux Echancres belongs, L'Hourloupe cycle was begun in 1962 in the year after the artist returned to Paris from an extended stay in Vence in the South of France, and in the same year as his first United States retrospective exhibition, which began at the Museum of Modern Art in New York before travelling to Chicago and Los Angeles. The series, which occupied Dubuffet for over a decade, represented a marked shift in his dialogue. The recurrent subjects of his life-long activity coalesced in these works, spreading and flowing into one another, contoured by black outlines and populated with a predominance of primary red and blue zones on a white ground. The result is "a true system, a net in which everything is caught, a grille through which everything is seen, in fact an alphabet, letters and punctuation, with which everything is said: a set of  preconditions for imaginative perception, within which it is possible to see everything, and outside which it is not possible to see anything" (Gaëton Picon in Exh. Cat., London, The Waddington Galleries, Jean Dubuffet, 1972, p. 39). Implicit in this evaluation is the notion of utter absorption, visually and psychically, within the painted surface, a sensation that is inescapable when confronting the present work and the essence of Coucou Bazar.

Dubuffet's prodigious career is one of contradictions. At once adamantly opposed to the guiding principles of occidental culture, and fully embraced within his lifetime by the very institutions that championed those theories, Dubuffet carved out a distinctive niche for himself within the confines of art history, effectively working from within to revolutionize modes of aesthetic perception. Thus, we are encouraged, even forced, to consider all of our preconceived artistic notions anew when approaching the majestic Massif aux Echancres, propelling itself into our visual cognition and forcing us from our accustomed aesthetic responses.