Jean Dubuffet

Nimble Free Hand to the Rescue


Not on display

Jean Dubuffet 1901–1985
Original title
Main leste et rescousse
Acrylic paint on canvas
Support: 1499 × 2007 mm
frame: 1545 × 2042 × 85 mm
Presented by Galerie Beyeler, Basel and Galerie Jeanne Bucher, Paris 1966

Display caption

This is from a series of works known as 'Hourloupe'. They are characterised by flat interlocking shapes and striated colouring, usually red, white and blue. The starting point for this style in Dubuffet's work was some doodles he made with ballpoint pens while talking on the telephone in July 1962. 'Hourloupe' is an invented word, which contains the idea of 'making a fool of' someone, or of making mistakes. The word 'loupe' means knob or gnarl. This picture seems to represent several figures in a landscape. One of them appears to be juggling.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

Jean Dubuffet born 1901 [- 1985]

T00869 Main leste et Rescousse (Nimble Free Hand to the Rescue) 1964

Inscribed 'J. Dubuffet 64' b.l., and 'Vernis v 14' and 'Main leste et | Rescousse | J. Dubuffet | décembre 1964' on back
Vinyl on canvas, 59 x 79 (150 x 200)
Presented by the Galerie Beyeler, Basle, and the Galerie Jeanne Bucher, Paris, 1966
Exh: Jean Dubuffet: Paintings, Tate Gallery, April-May 1966 (124, repr.); Jean Dubuffet, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, June-August 1966 (116, repr.); Jean Dubuffet, Kunsthalle, Basle, June-August 1970 (33, in place of T00870)
Lit: Max Loreau, Catalogue des Travaux de Jean Dubuffet XXI: L'Hourloupe II (Paris 1968), No.42, p.29 repr.; Max Loreau, Jean Dubuffet: Délits, Déportements, Lieux de Haut Jeu (Geneva 1971), pp.453-4, repr. p.453

This and the two works [T00870 and T01575] are from the series known as 'Hourloupe' characterised by flat interlocking shapes and striated colouring, usually red, white and blue, often on a black ground. The starting-point of this style was some ballpoint doodles that Dubuffet made while talking on the telephone in July 1962. The word 'Hourloupe' is a private one coined by the artist, but with suggestions of the argot word 'enterlouper' (to make a fool of) and other words containing the idea of mistakes. The word 'loupe' means a knob, gnarl or excrescence.

Some of the 'Hourloupe' paintings made in the summer of 1964 represent objects such as houses, ships, beds and so on, but this picture which was painted in Paris on 6 December 1964 is one of those done later in the year on the theme of figures in a landscape. It seems to represent a group of figures of whom one may be conjuring or juggling.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.184, reproduced p.184

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