Max Loreau, Catalogue des Travaux de Jean Dubuffet: L'Hourloupe I, fascicule XX, Paris 1966, p. 49, no. 98, illustrated
Executed in 1962 and acquired directly from Jean Dubuffet shortly afterwards by the present owner, Paris Plaisir forms a bridge between the artist's two most highly-esteemed and consequential mature series: the Paris Circus and L'Hourloupe. Bustling with energy, the jagged, impulsive line that darts around the composition describes the frenetic heartbeat and joie de vivre of Parisian existence that Dubuffet had witnessed on his return to the French capital after a break of several years in the countryside at Vence. Rendered in a celebratory, tricolore palette of reds, blues and whites against a monochrome background, there is a refined simplicity to the composition and an unconscious spontaneity in its charged white line that effectively marks the culmination of the Paris Circus cycle and its evolution towards the Hourloupe series later that year.
When Dubuffet left Paris in 1955, the city he was abandoning was war-scarred and melancholic. However when he returned there in 1961, he found the French capital to be transformed and full of optimism. Its new vibrant atmosphere was intoxicating, inspiring the creation of his exuberant and vibrant Paris Circus series – compositions populated with the broad panorama of city life that he encountered in the capital's now teeming boulevards. The frenetic density of these jumbled, celebratory landscapes was heightened further by the flattened perspectival plane and their cropped, all-over formats – compositional devices redolent of children's art as well as the raw and unfettered vision of psychotic art that informed Dubuffet's entire oeuvre.
Categorically opposed to the idea of cultivated art as propagated in schools and museums, Dubuffet, who himself had received no formal artistic training, denounced the selective nature of official culture and nurtured the concept of art informel: a spontaneous and primitive art that rejected conventional notions of harmony and beauty in favour of unrefined vitality and individual expression. This reductive informel philosophy found ultimate expression in his Hourloupe cycle which occupied him for twelve years and was acclaimed as his most revolutionary. Encompassing all media, it mounted a challenge to perceived boundaries between real and imaginary realms and saw him describing the world in a childlike doodle of bold outlines and interlocking abstract shapes. Standing as a monument to Dubuffet's relentless hunger for invention and creation, Paris Plaisir was amongst the first compositions to herald this radical shift in outlook and can be seen as a truly breakthrough work.
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