Jean Dubuffet. Theatres of memory

13 Sep — 21 Oct 2017 at Pace Gallery in London, United Kingdom

10 AUGUST 2017
Jean Dubuffet, Vestiges and devenirs, June 23, 1976, acrylic on glued paper mounted on canvas (25 sections) 55-1/8" x 9' 3-7/16" (140 cm x 283 cm)© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2017
Jean Dubuffet, Vestiges and devenirs, June 23, 1976, acrylic on glued paper mounted on canvas (25 sections) 55-1/8" x 9' 3-7/16" (140 cm x 283 cm)© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2017

Pace London is honoured to present Jean Dubuffet: Theatres of memory, the first exhibition of Dubuffet’s Théâtres de mémoire series in over three decades and the first ever exhibition dedicated to the series in London. Organized by Arne Glimcher, the founder of Pace Gallery, Tamara Corm, Director of Pace London and co-curator, the seminal exhibition features eight monumental paintings on loan from important UK and European museum and foundation’s collections, some of which are displayed publicly for the first time. Jean Dubuffet: Theatres of memory is on view from 13 September to 21 October 2017 at 6 Burlington Gardens.

Made from an inventory of cut-out paintings and drawings - large and small, figurative and abstract, natural and architectural - each painting is a panoramic assemblage that brings together memories of sites and scenes from the artist’s mind. Dubuffet titled the series after Frances Yates’ book ‘The Art of Memory’, which presents the ‘memory techniques’ used by Cicero and Middle Ages’ orators that enabled them to remember storehouses of knowledge before the invention of writing. For Dubuffet, the Théâtres de mémoire present “multiple recollections of places and scenes, which at any given moment, jostle in our memory.” Dubuffet in the introduction to the Théâtres de mémoire, Catalogue des travaux, XXXII, Paris, Les Editions de minuit, 1982.

The exhibition marks 50 years of Pace representing Dubuffet and follows Pace’s tradition of staging landmark exhibitions on the artist, including two shows of Théâtres de mémoire presented in 1977 and 1979 in New York. An illustrated catalogue featuring an introduction by Arne Glimcher and an essay by Dr. Kent Minturn will accompany the exhibition. In his essay, Minturn is concerned with Dubuffet’s interest in memory and the significance of the Théâtres de mémoire works : “They are the gateway to the artist’s chief interests and obsessions that will dominate the last 10 years of his artistic production.”

Jean Dubuffet (b. 1901, Le Havre, France; d. 1985, Paris) began painting at the age of seventeen and studied briefly at the Académie Julian, Paris. After seven years, he abandoned painting and became a wine merchant. It was not until 1942 that he began the work which has distinguished him as an outstanding innovator in postwar European painting. Dubuffet's interest in art brut, the art of the institutionalized and the untrained, whether a paleolithic cave artist or the writer of contemporary graffiti, led him to emulate this directly expressive and untutored style in his own work. His paintings from the early forties in brightly colored oils were soon followed by works in which he employed such unorthodox materials as cement, plaster, tar, and asphalt—scraped, carved and cut and drawn upon with a rudimentary, spontaneous line. Dubuffet’s oeuvre was propelled by a constant evolution of techniques, seeking to dislocate site, space, and established continuities. In 1966 he received three independent retrospectives at museums including the Tate Gallery, London; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and Museum of Fine Arts, Dallas, which travelled to the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. Jean Dubuffet has been represented by Pace since 1967.