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.
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