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Dubuffet and Kopac: An Obsession with Material

On 11 January 2022, by Anne Doridou-Heim

An oil painting by the master of Outsider art speaks of his friendship with the Croatian painter, whose work is poised for rediscovery.

Dubuffet and Kopac: An Obsession with Material

Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985), Petit paysage avec personnages, 1949, oil on Isorel, signed, dated and dedicated to Slavko Kopac, 50 x 61 cm/19.7 x 24 in.
Result: €747,040

This painting, Petit paysage avec personnages (Small Landscape with Figures), sheds an interesting light on the friendship between Jean Dubuffet and Slavko Kopac (1913-1995). While the former's art is well-known and studied, Kopac's is still awaiting rediscovery. This will happen relatively soon, with the upcoming retrospectives in Croatia's capital (2023) and at the Centre Pompidou in Paris (2024) and, this January, the Gallimard publication in France of an in-depth monograph by Fabrice Flahutez, Pauline Goutain and Roberta Trapani, Slavko KopacOmbres et matières (Slavko KopacShadows and Materials). This does full justice to the career of the Croatian painter (who studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, then spent time in Italy and moved to Paris in 1948), and no longer focuses solely on his role as curator and archivist of the Collection de l'Art Brut founded by Dubuffet. We learn that Kopac was also involved with the Surrealists, acting as a bridge between the two movements, and produced a personal, poetic corpus that mingled techniques and unusual materials. This 1949 oil on Isorel, bearing witness to a long story of artistic friendship and aesthetic explorations, sold for €747,040.

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