Pace Gallery: Jean Dubuffet "Le cirque"
Le cirque is a habitable environment that suggests an urban plaza, which Dubuffet first conceived and sculpted in 1970 as a model for future enlargement at architectural scale. Measuring thirty feet square and thirteen feet in height, Le cirque is one of the last remaining works from the late-1960s and early-1970s to be realized at heroic size. Marking a crucial moment in Dubuffet’s deeply influential oeuvre, it stands as a major achievement in the artist’s sculptural practice and heralds the final chapter in his celebrated Hourloupe cycle, which lasted from 1962 to 1974. This cycle, the longest and most prolific of Dubuffet’s career, began with drawings and paintings, to which Dubuffet added reliefs to expand their presence spatially and “give them life,” as the artist stated. This evolved further into painted and sculpted panels, which came together in ambitious sculptural and architectural installations.
The original model for Le cirque was created shortly after Dubuffet’s second solo exhibition with Pace Gallery in New York in 1970, which debuted a body of new black-and-white sculptures called Simulacres. Dubuffet’s inaugural exhibition with Pace had taken place in 1968, after the artist met the gallery’s founder Arne Glimcher for the first time in Paris in 1966 and began working with him the following year. A foundational figure in the gallery’s history, Dubuffet’s work has been the subject of more than 20 solo exhibitions at Pace since 1968 and has been featured in countless dual and group exhibitions.