This fall, Pace Gallery in London will be given over to a historical show of Jean Dubuffet’s “Théâtres de Mémoire,” a series of monumental paintings made by the late French painter between 1975 and 1978. Among the artist’s largest works—running to sizes as formidable as 8 by 12 feet—the “Theaters of Memory” works are, per a vintage Pace press release for a similar show staged long ago, in 1977, “a collage of linear graffiti and images existing together in a fabric of discordant space and incompatible imagery.”
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Pace’s representation of Dubuffet, who left his longtime dealer Pierre Matisse in 1967 to sign on with Arne Glimcher when the dealer was a mere 26 years old. Marc Glimcher, who now helms Pace along with his father, said that turning back to Dubuffet’s “Théâtres de Mémoire” makes for a memorial of sorts. “Like Louise Nevelson and Agnes Martin, he was like one of my grandparents—and it’s hard to do a good Dubuffet show,” Glimcher told ARTnews.
Childhood visits to see the artist in his element left a mark on Glimcher. “My brother and I would be afraid when the trip was approaching every year to go visit his studio, which was in an old insane asylum,” Glimcher said. “There were beehives by the door, and to go in, you had to walk through a curtain of bees. It was very good art-dealer training.”
Other memories include price tags put on paintings by Dubuffet himself, in accordance with neither size nor subject matter but, instead, the time each took to complete. “He wanted to charge an hourly rate that was way below what the paintings were worth,” Glimcher said. “He was so perverse.”
The forthcoming London exhibition, to open September 13, will feature 14 works in a non-selling show with loans from several European museums and institutions. Glimcher said, in his mind, the timing is right.
“People now are getting it about Dubuffet: that he’s certainly one the 10 most influential artists of the 20th century, without question,” he said. “When we see Basquiat selling for $100 million . . . Basquiat used to come in every other month to see my father and see what Dubuffets had come in. He used to come in and study them. Any idea of making what he referred to as Art Brut, this is something that courses through half of the artists who came after him. He was such a huge influence. But in the market, with collectors, Dubuffet has always been still ahead of his time—until now.”