Monumental sculptures

Jean Dubuffet's monumental sculptures are connected to the Hourloupe cycle. This first appeared in 1962 with drawings and paintings made up of multiple cells where each space comes to life, participating in the theory that there is continuity between objects, places and figures. Then comesthe desire to "enter into the images", to create a mental space where the viewer would no be in front of the image, but inside the image, integrated and directly confronted by the Hourloupian writing forcing him to reflect on the fantasy and reality. The paintings become reliefs then architectures.

« I want to give monumental dimensions to these unrestricted graphics, these graphics that escape from the paper's surface which usually serves as a support ».

"Allusive" architectures with evocative titles but not using any known reality : Kiosque l'Evidé, Castelet L'Hourloupe, Castel Baba, Villa Falbala... We also find trees, quintessential hourloupean anti-nature, single or in groups, concomitantly to the tree, curved pieces of wall and all distorted facts to close the gardens. The walls are covered with roots and foliage in roof paces. It flies at once and gives way to strong tattered walls pierced with openings baptized Architectural elements contortionist. Hybrid construction parts, between landscape and architecture, Dubuffet combines to form streets, neighborhoods, a city ... but a city of fantasies, any facades treated as a theater set.

From expanded polystyrene to resin

Although the term "architectural models" is commonly used, usually there are no plans or designed project. The models emerge from a block of polystyrene that Jean Dubuffet sculpt with a hot wire with as much "liberty and ease as a pencil gliding over paper". Light and easily manipulated, the polystyrene played a role in numerous technical discoveries wich often led the artist to develop and renew his work. The following step consisted of perfecting the technique to transfer and mould from the fragile artwork in polystyrene to polyester resin or epoxy resin.

From project to monument

Most of these models were not created for a specific destination and so the artist did not envisage their enlargement : his imagination sufficed to evoque them.

Dubuffet will, however, an opportunity to confront its pure mental projections at the real process of construction. His first order came from the United States of America in the spring 1969. The first to be destined for a specific site: The Chase Manhattan Plaza, New York. The Groupe de quatre arbres was unveiled on october 24th, 1972. Between these two dates, Dubuffet built large studios in Périgny-sur-Yerres (Val-de-Marne) to house the pantograph, the precious enlarging "machine". Just beside, he also begins the construction, for his personal use, of a project in which he holds. It will be the Closerie Falbala, classed as a historic monument in 1998, a simulacrum of a walled garden in which stands the Villa Falbala to protect the Cabinet logologique, his "philosophical exercise room".

If the first command given to the artist, the Groupe de quatre arbres for New York, was conducted smoothly - as later the construction of the Jardin d’émail to the Kröller-Müller Museum at Otterlo in the Netherlands - although orders (including Salon d’été for the Régie Renault or Site scripturaire for the development of the esplanade of Defense) will remain in draft form, administrative slowness tributaries of technical hazards or financial, sometimes political. As Daniel Abadie says, the construction of Closerie Falbala was, in this sense, a response to the failure of major projects remained unanswered. It was not until 1983 that a new order is placed by the French state : Tour aux figures, the highest ever achieved monument (24 m) will be inaugurated in 1988, Dubuffet having approved its site a few months before his death in May 1985.

Enlargements today

The first step in creating its Dubuffet Foundation was to give it, even before his paintings, all projects of monumental sculptures and architectural models. His main concern, after preserving Closerie Panacea or Coucou Bazar, was to ensure the future of these projects. The possibility, after his death, and with respect for his artwork, become a reality. The Foundation can achieve monumental sculptures for private and public collections. The enlargements are no longer made in the old studios, today converted into showrooms but still by practitioners who have worked with the artist. Works are carried out under the control of the Dubuffet Foundation that oversees every step, from the molding of the model to final installation on the site.

 Map of monumentales sculptures on Paris and its region
 Main monumental sculptures visible in the public domain
Arbre biplan Jardin d'hiver Groupe de quatre arbres Closerie Falbala
Jardin d'émail Manoir d'Essor Monument au fantôme Monument à la bête debout
Tour aux figures L'accueillant Le Boqueteau Le Réséda
Chaufferie avec cheminée Bel Costumé Tour dentellière Welcome Parade


For more

Dubuffet Architecte   Fascicule 23   Fascicule 24
Fascicule 25   Fascicule 28   Fascisule 31

Jean Dubuffet, 1970
Jean Dubuffet, 1970 Exhibition «Jean Dubuffet : buildings, projects and architectural models», 1968 Les ateliers à Périgny, 1970 Jean Dubuffet in the workshops at Périgny, 1970 Jean Dubuffet with David Rockefeller, 1972 Jean Dubuffet and model of Site scripturaire, 1974 Jean Dubuffet in front of Site à l'homme assis, 1984
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