Jean Dubuffet’s Limitless Imagination: Why One of the Artist’s Ambitious Environments Is Being Newly Fabricated

A performance of Jean Dubuffet’s Coucou Bazar, 1972-1973, in a 2016 exhibition at the Fondation Beyeler in Switzerland.–PATRICK STRAUB/KEYSTONE VIA AP

Jean Dubuffet, one of the most famous European artists of the postwar era, had an imagination that knew no bounds. In his rough-hewn paintings, drawings, and sculptures ranging from abstraction to childlike figuration, he envisioned altered states in which humanity existed in a form that he believed was closer to its origins. A ceaseless experimenter in the way of materials and forms, he advocated for self-taught or “outsider” practitioners in the field.

These days, Dubuffet may be best known for his large-scale sculptures, which resemble masses of white organic forms sharply outlined in black. He had intended for Le cirque (1970) to be among his monumental ones, but it was never fully realized in a large-scale format—until now. Starting on September 18, Pace Gallery will show a newly fabricated version of Le cirque in its New York gallery.

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