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7
Jean Dubuffet
BÉRET ROSE
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1,200,0001,800,000
LOT SOLD. 2,633,750 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
7
Jean Dubuffet
BÉRET ROSE
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.
Double Dagger
Indicates that the lot is being sold whilst subject to Temporary Importation, and that VAT is due at the reduced rate
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.
1,200,0001,800,000
LOT SOLD. 2,633,750 GBP
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Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

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London

Jean Dubuffet
1901 - 1985
BÉRET ROSE
signed and dated 56; signed, titled and dated Août 56 on the reverse
oil and collage on canvas
88 by 61.5 cm. 34 5/8 by 24 1/4 in.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York

Grace and Philip Sandblom, Lund (acquired from the above in 1960)

Sotheby’s, London, 28 February 2008, Lot 126 (consigned by the above) 

Private Collection, Switzerland (acquired from the above sale)

Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2009

Exhibited

Stockholm, Nationalmuseum, The Grace and Philip Sandblom Collection, 1981, p. 84, illustrated 

Literature

Max Loreau, Catalogue des Travaux de Jean Dubuffet, fasc. XII: Tableaux d'Assemblages, Lausanne 1969, p. 61, no. 62, illustrated

Catalogue Note

Belonging to Jean Dubuffet's Tableaux d'assemblages, created in Vence between November 1955 and December 1956, Béret Rose embodies the artist's career-long fascination with the metamorphic portent of nature. An important body of work, in which Dubuffet explored the concept of pre-painted canvas collage, the Tableaux d'assemblages allowed the artist to experiment with new-found textures and depths in the picture plane, while excavating the mythological properties of the earth. A number of these important works have since been acquired by prestigious museum collections, including the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Fondation Beyeler in Basel, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington D.C. Béret Rose is further significant as a work formerly held in the collection of Grace and Philip Sandblom. In 1970, these extraordinary Swedish collectors made one of the most significant donations to the Moderna Museet in its entire history, entailing major paintings by artists such as Paul Cezanne, Pablo Picasso, and Gustave Courbet. That they chose to acquire the present work from Pierre Matisse in 1960 is a clear indication of its quality.

In 1955, Dubuffet left Paris for a house in the town of Vence. Deeply affected by the horrific trauma and ravages of war, the artist turned his back on urban life in favour of rediscovering contact with nature. Motivated by the environment, Dubuffet’s paintings from this period evoke textures reminiscent of naturally occurring phenomena found in the soil and topography of the land. Béret Rose embodies Dubuffet’s enduring preoccupation with the natural world and the relationship between figure and ground, as articulated by the integration of the painting's full-length subject within his rural environment. By taking on this pastoral dialogue Dubuffet could not help but hark back to the nineteenth-century Realism of Jean-Francois Millet and Gustave Courbet – another artist who was well represented in the Sandblom Collection. Following the fall of the French monarchy, these artists depicted the working classes in an effort to present a truthful and objective view of contemporary life at a time of democratic reform. Rejecting idealised classicism in favour of elevating everyday work into the realm of high art, Realism coincided with the utopian manifestos of Karl Marx and the ideal of a proletarian uprising. For Dubuffet however, an artist who witnessed two modern world wars, his return to nature and the land almost acts as an inversion of these nineteenth-century political motivations. Rather than a reflection of unadorned contemporaneity, the countryside instead operates as a safe-haven, a site of fantasy and escape from the reality of post-war urban life. Dubuffet's beret-wearing character embodies a naive spirit, seemingly unfettered and unaffected by the distractions of modern existence. Nonetheless Dubuffet's work of this time is far from anachronistic; his innovative use and utter recapitulation of the traditional canon of oil on canvas is indelibly modern, harboring something of the fragmentary quality of its socio-political moment.

By cutting up and using fragments of painted canvas and applying them onto a canvas ground, Dubuffet negated the need for pencil drawing and allowed the scissors to dictate the composition, often solely by intuition. In Béret Rose, the canvas collage gives the effect of a stained glass mosaic in its variegated tessellation, while the mineral palette embodies Dubuffet’s fascination with the natural world. The rectangular pieces of speckled and pebbled canvas are arranged like puzzle pieces, emulating the kaleidoscopic surface of the landscape by layering and accumulation. Dubuffet’s experimentation with assemblage began in the summer of 1953, when, following a trip to the Savoie with Pierre Bettencourt, the artist began to produce small collages from butterfly wings. The artist continued his interest in non-traditional art materials the subsequent year, using raw coal and sponges to make a small group of figurative sculptures. Dubuffet’s methods of chance and spontaneity reached its climax in the years of 1955 and 1956, when the artist began preparing lengths of canvas with dense patterns of stains, imprints, and smears. After cutting these canvases up into an inventory of random shapes and sizes, Dubuffet would assemble various pieces into landscapes and figures. In describing his attachment to assemblage Dubuffet explained: “I can affirm that that technique, for anyone willing to consider it as at least a factor in improvisation and experimentation, as a means of sparking off the imagination, as a gymnastic exercise in shaking off handed-down conventions and prejudices that inhibit one, as an instigation to invention in all domains (subjects, composition drawing, colouring)… is in all events extremely stimulating and fertile… Moreover, this new technique of assemblage gave me, as soon as I started on it, the impression of lending itself perfectly to treating the subjects that had been so much in my mind… the roadbed, the grasses and little plants pushing through along the sides...” (Jean Dubuffet cited in: Mildred Glimcher, Jean Dubuffet: Towards an Alternative Reality, New York 1987, p. 12). Indeed, it was Dubuffet himself who coined the highly influential term ‘assemblage’ which was then used to describe the iconic work of Robert Rauschenberg in New York and Edward Kienholz in California. 

Dubuffet constantly hunted for the rich, pictorially inventive effects afforded by chance juxtapositions of technique. As curator Raphaël Bouvier explains of the Tableaux d'assemblages: “The anthropomorphic structure of the landscape and earth… may be read as an allusion to the myth according to which land and the landscape were created by the dismemberment of a monster’s body. In dissecting nature, the artist reveals not only an anatomical and geological perception of landscape, but also a mythological view of its essence. An underlying search for the archaic and the primeval…” (Raphaël Bouvier cited in: Exh. Cat., Basel, Fondation Beyeler, Jean Dubuffet: Metamorphoses of Landscape, 2016, p. 17). The creative destruction of Dubuffet's assemblage method became a founding principle of his oeuvre, and as such Béret Rose testifies his pioneering use of materials and innovative recapitulation of revered art historical genres.

 

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

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London