Lady in the Garden: Work from the Dubuffet’s Avant-Garde ‘Assemblage’ Series

An innovative artist constantly pushes the boundary of art and influences others through his unique style and technique. French painter Jean Dubuffet is definitely one of these pioneering artists. As a self-taught painter, Jean Dubuffet was a merchant at first and took up painting at his mid age. He founded the movement Art Brut, an art by self-taught art makers or artists who have little or no professional art training.

Katharine Arnold, a specialist from Christie’s Post-War & Contemporary Art, tells us more about Jean Dubuffet with Lady in the Garden, a work from the artist’s avant-garde ‘assemblage’ series.

Madame au Jardin (Lady in the Garden)

Part of Madame au Jardin (Lady in the Garden)

Part of Madame au Jardin (Lady in the Garden)

Jean Dubuffet is a self-taught artist

Q: What’s so special about this work by Dubuffet?

Katharine: Jean Dubuffet is one of the artists of the last century who have changed the concept of what painting could be. This piece, Madame au Jardin, is made up of pieces of canvas.

Katharine: The artist found scraps of canvas in his studio and he started with a playful way to create images out of collage. He took a piece of canvas and cut it into shape, and then he glued it on the surface of the canvas. So there are many beautiful colours of blue, green, red and pink on it. I particularly like the way he cut piece into flowers at the upper right corner.

Katharine Arnold, specialist from Christie’s Post-War & Contemporary Art

Q: When did Dubuffet create this work?

Katharine: This work is created by Jean Dubuffet in 1956, around the time when he left Paris for the countryside. He found peace in nature and started to create images of gardens. So what we see here at the centre of the painting is a woman in the garden.

Part of Madame au Jardin (Lady in the Garden)

Part of Madame au Jardin (Lady in the Garden)

Q: What about the composition of this painting?

Katharine: It's very interesting. When you walk into a garden, you don’t just see things in one level. You always see depth and things up close. The artist wanted viewers to experience how it would be being in real life. Things in real life are messy, they are not in order. So he captured what you see in real life: chaos, movement and energy.

Katharine: In this painting, he didn't favour one image over the other. He didn’t say to you that the woman is the most important thing in this painting. He didn’t tell you if the woman is someone special to him. Perhaps the figure is his wife but he would never tell you. He wanted you to explore his work.

Dubuffet is an artist who loved experimenting with different techniques

Dubuffet’s work using wings of butterflies

Dubuffet's work in the 60s

Dubuffet’s work on the left and Basquiat’s work on the right

Q: Any other creation that he made before or after that period?

Katharine: He was an innovative artist who changed his style almost every decade. He loved experimenting with different technique. In 1953, three years before he created Madame au Jardin, he tried using wings of butterflies on paintings. In 1961, he was painting the Paris city. He then started making totally different abstract paintings, a series called ‘Paris Circus’. He was a big inspiration to artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat and those of the later generations because of the way he kept experimenting with things that are radically new.

Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985). Madame au Jardin (Lady in the Garden)

Auction house: Christie’s London
Sale: Post War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction
Sale date: 4 October 2018|7pm
Lot no.: 16
Created in: 1956
Size: 148 x 120cm

  • Galerie Rive Droite, Paris.
  • Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York.
  • Donald Morris Gallery, Birmingham, Michigan.
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner in the 1980s.

Estimate: £2,500,000 - 3,500,000