Know Your Artist — By the Numbers: Jean Dubuffet | BLOUIN ARTINFO
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Know Your Artist — By the Numbers: Jean Dubuffet

Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985) was a French painter and sculptor best known for the development of an art movement that he coined Art Brut. movement.  The term, which translates from the French as “raw art,” is also known as Outsider Art, and it encompasses a range of art forms, like graffiti and naive art, which  do not conform to the conventions and traditions of the art world.

He studied painting in Paris in 1918, but became disillusioned with the academic constraints on art and abandoned his studies to pursue other artistic disciplines as well as work in his father’s wine business.  But by the early 1940s, Dubuffet had returned to painting, deciding to devote himself entirely to a career in art. 

He was known for using unconventional materials in his artwork, like sand, gravel, tar and straw along with oil paint, all which gave a highly textured surface to the paintings he made during the 1940s and 1950s. 

In the early 1960s, Dubuffet developed the Hourloupe style, known for its tangle of black lines that forms cells, which are sometimes filled with color.Dubuffet enjoyed a successful art career, both in France and in America, and his works were displayed in several exhibitions throughout his lifetime. 

In 2015, Dubuffet achieved an auction record of $24.8 million (including buyer’s premium) for “Paris Polka,” which sold at Christie’s New York.
This week, Sotheby’s and Christie’s will feature his works at its auctions in Paris. “Portrait d’Homme Moustachu Facon Carton Pate” and “Paris Plaisir VI” are scheduled to be auctioned at Sotheby’s Art Contemporain Evening Sale on June 6. On June 7, the auction house will have two of his works on paper and cardboard up for sale at its Art Contemporain Day Sale. Later, Christie’s will feature his “Partition” at its Post-war and Contemporary Art, Evening Sale. 

Here is a performance analysis of Jean Dubuffet’s artworks in the auction market:

1. Sales Trend in the Past 20 Years
Dubuffet’s performance graph has shown an increasing trend of both sale value and volume since 2010 (see the graph below). The all-time best year for the artist was 2016, with total sales of $95.5 million of 173 artworks. 

2. Volume of Artworks on Offer vs. Bought-in Rate
The bought-in rate of the artist has remained in the range of 17 percent to 27 percent since 2010.

3. Bought-ins by Auction Houses
A trend of artworks offered at auction and the bought-in rate at the top two auction houses can be observed in the graph below.  Bought-in rates at Christie’s and Sotheby’s have been lower when compared with the bought-in rates at other auction houses. While bought-in rates at Christie’s and Sotheby’s never exceeded 24 percent (Christie’s in 2013) in the past 10 years, at other auction houses, the bought-in rate registered as high as 62 percent in 2008.

4. Average and  Median Sale Price Trend in the Past 20 Years
In the past three years, the average sales price of Dubuffet has been above $400,000.  In 2015, the average price peaked at $624,970 and in 2017, the average price came to $447,106. In the same three-year period, the median price was in a range of $47,000 to $69,000.

5. Highest-Priced Artworks
Dubuffet’s 10 highest-priced artworks were sold at the main auction houses Christie’s and Sotheby’s.  “Paris Polka,” signed and dated J. Dubuffet 61’ on lower right on oil on canvas, reached  $24.8 million at the Looking Forward to the Past auction at Christie’s New York in May 2015. 
The second highest sale occurred in 2016 when “Les Grandes Arteres,” which was painted in 1961, sold at Christie’s New York for $23.8 million. The third highest sale occurred in last year at Christie’s London when “Etre et paraitre (To Be and to Seem),” painted in 1963, fetched $12.2 million.
We expect that the upcoming auctions this week will break his record.

6. Price Band in Which His Works Have Sold in the Past 20 Years
If we observe the stratification of sale volume by various price bands, three bands come out almost even at around 12 percent each: artworks selling less than $5,000; in the $5,000 to $10,000 range, and $50,000 to $100,000 (at 11.2 percent).  Just 5.5 percent of his works have sold for over $1 million.  Two other price bands also had nearly equal selling rates at around 29 percent: works that sold in the price range of $10,000 to $50,000 (at 28.6 percent) and $100,000 to $1 million (at 29.8 percent).

7. Where His Works Have Sold the Most in the Past 20 Years
More than 67 percent of his artworks have sold at Christie’s and Sotheby’s, with both auction houses accounting for 93.6 percent of his total sales.  But while the other auction houses accounted together for 6.4 percent of total sales, they auctioned 32.4 percent of his artworks. 
If we observe the spread of geographical location of sales of his works, the United States leads with $286.6 million, followed by the United Kingdom at $159.6 million, France at $111.4 million and the rest (Sweden, Germany and Italy).

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Top auction results for Jean Dubuffet