Lot 3: JEAN DUBUFFET
Contemporary Art Evening
November 14, 2006
New York, NY, USA
PROPERTY FROM THE VANTHOURNOUT COLLECTION
CARNET DE VOYAGE
59 x 75 in. 150 x 194.5 cm.
signed with the artist's initials and dated 75; signed, titled and dated déc 1975 on the reverse
acrylic on paper collage mounted on canvas
Galerie Beyeler, Basel
Acquired by the present owner from the above circa 1980
Max Loreau, ed., Catalogue des travaux de Jean Dubuffet: Théâtres de mèmoire, fascicule XXXII, Paris, 1982, cat. no. 8, p. 18, illustrated
Jean Dubuffet's Carnet de Voyage, executed in late 1975 is a momentous collage from the series Les Théâtres de mémoire. Throughout this series, Dubuffet explored how memory functions as opposed to visual observation. To achieve this effect, Dubuffet used the technique of assemblage (the systematic method throughout this series) to visually convey the disjointed elements of memory.
Earlier that year while working on his series Lieux abrégés, Dubuffet noticed that the sheets of paper figures he was creating were scattered around his studio. Inspired by the random arrangement of these figures, he started to work with each one as a separate piece and then melded them into carefully integrated compositions. Despite this conscious process, Dubuffet's collages achieve a high level of spontaneity.
Just as pieces of memory are rearranged and reconnected in the brain, Dubuffet's work encourages the viewer to draw connections and process the seemingly unrelated figures and shapes on the canvas. A "carnet de voyage" - a travel journal or diary- is a place where anecdotes and documentations of travel are collected, but they are not necessarily connected into a narrative. In similar fashion, there is no central focus in Carnet de Voyage, and we are forced to continuously re-create the stories and connections in Dubuffet's work. Our eyes scavenge the surface, retrieving and attempting to absorb the mélange of images, as works such as Carnet de Voyage test the multi-facted process of memory and seeing.