Artwork by Jean Paul Riopelle,  D’avantage d’oiseaux

Jean Paul Riopelle
D’avantage d’oiseaux

litho collage laid on canvas
signed lower right; titled on the stretcher; dated 1967 on the gallery label on the reverse; catalogue raisonné #1967.011P.1967
36 x 29 ins ( 91.4 x 73.7 cms )

Auction Estimate: $35,000.00$25,000.00 - $35,000.00

Price Realized $24,000.00
Sale date: June 15th 2022

Galerie Maeght, Paris
Private Collection, Toronto
“Riopelle, Assemblages”, Galerie Maeght, Paris, 1967, Derrière le miroir no. 171, no. 21
“Jean Paul Riopelle, Assemblages, New Lithographs”, Albert White Gallery, Toronto, 1968
Yseult Riopelle, “Jean Paul Riopelle: Catalogue Raisonné, Volume 4, 1966-1971”, Montreal, 2014, reproduced page 259, catalogue no. 1967.011P.1967
François-Marc Gagnon, “Jean Paul Riopelle: Life & Work” [online publication], Art Canada Institute, Toronto, 2019, page 69
Jean Paul Riopelle’s first encounter with printmaking was in 1946 when he visited New York. There, he visited the studio of William Hayter and met fellow artists such as Joan Miró and Franz Kline. Nearly twenty years later, Riopelle and Joan Mitchell spent time in Vétheuil, a village outside of Paris, where Monet lived from 1878 to 1881. It was during this period when Riopelle began to rediscover the medium. The artist travelled back and forth between Vétheuil and Paris almost daily, frequenting the Imprimerie Arte-Adrien Maeght, a printmaking studio. If not completely satisfied with a print, he cleverly repurposed the work by cutting it into pieces and making a collage. This new series of compositions were large in scale and dated to 1967, including “D’avantage d’oiseaux”.

François-Marc Gagnon comments on Riopelle’s collages of this period, describing them as “complex and anarchic patterns reminiscent of his early abstractions. In them, fine line is accentuated by larger and smaller cut up abstraction prints, arranged in a haphazard fashion that shows little regard for the way an image should look. His collage work, grounded in printmaking, is an exploration of potential abstract arrangements that celebrate the chance encounter that occurs when pieces never intended to share the same space are brought into contact with one another.”

The renowned Galerie Maeght and the Imprimerie Arte-Adrien Maeght were owned by Adrien Maeght, a prominent Parisian art dealer known for exhibiting works of famous modern and contemporary artists. Mr. Maeght had included Riopelle’s early abstractions in a landmark 1947 surrealist exhibition with André Breton and Marcel Duchamp. “D’avantage d’oiseaux” bears an original Galerie Maeght label on the canvas stretcher, indicating that the artwork would have been created at the print studio and then exhibited at the gallery.

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Jean Paul Riopelle
(1923 - 2002) Les Automatistes, RCA, SCA

Born in 1923, Jean Paul Riopelle is one of Canada’s most significant artists from the twentieth century. Born in Montréal, Quebec, Riopelle was educated at the Saint-Louis-de-Gonzague school. In 1936, he began taking painting and drawing classes on the weekends that Henri Bisson, a sculptor who often drew from life, taught in the Riopelle family home. Much of Riopelle’s early works can be traced to his time spent learning under Bisson and are attempts at direct representations from life. For example, Nature bien morte (1942) is a copy of Bisson’s work. Riopelle, advised by his parents, enrolled in the École Polytechnique de Montréal in 1941 to study architecture and engineering. However, he did poorly in his courses and enrolled in the École des beaux-arts and then the École du meuble.

At the École du meuble, Riopelle was taught by Paul-Émile Borduas. Initially, Riopelle could not let go of the academic style taught to him by Bisson in favor of Borduas’ abstract style. Eventually, inspired by automatic writing and painting exercises Riopelle embraced his unconscious imagination and began working in an abstract style. Riopelle was also inspired by the paintings of Vincent van Gogh. In 1944, he produced his first abstracted work in Saint-Fabien. The painting, now lost, was a representation of a water hole left on the shore of the Saint Lawrence River. Riopelle, alongside other young Automatistes, spent part of the winter of 1944-45 with Borduas in Mont-Saint-Hilaire exploring radical ideas about art and politics, which would eventually manifest themselves in the Refus global manifesto.

In early 1946, Riopelle took part in the first Automatistes exhibition, Exposition de peinture, in Montréal. In the same year, Riopelle travelled to France for the first time while working as a horse groomer and became enamored by paintings of horses by Théodore Géricault and by Impressionist works at the Musée de l’Orangerie. Riopelle returned to France in December 1946 and met André Breton who invited Riopelle to participate in a Surrealist exhibition in the following year. Because Breton was somewhat dismissive of the Automatistes, Riopelle was the only Automatistes to participate in the Exposition international du surréalisme in 1947. Inspired by the French Surrealists, upon Riopelle’s return to Canada he encouraged the Automatistes to produce their own manifesto. The manifesto, Refus global, was an anarchistic proclamation published in 1948.

Georges Mathieu invited Riopelle to participate in an international exhibition titled Véhémences confrontées alongside Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. Feeling detached from Breton’s Surrealism Riopelle began producing a body of work that would eventually be known as mosaics. Favoring a pallet knife over a brush, Riopelle was renown through the 1950s for his larger than life canvases. In the summer of 1960, Riopelle began sculpting. Riopelle represented Canada at the Venice Biennale in 1962; exhibiting both paintings and bronze cast sculptures earning him the UNESCO Prize. After appearing in the Venice Biennale, throughout the late 1960s, Riopelle began working in a fragmented style that is reminiscent of collages. In 1969, Riopelle began working on La Joute, which would eventually be installed in the Olympic Park at the 1976 Summer Olympic Games in Montréal. The installation features a fountain surrounded by abstract animal and human figures.

Beginning in the 1980s, numerous Canadian institutions began retrospective exhibitions of Riopelle’s work, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, and the Art Gallery of Peterborough. The Musée national d’art modern de Paris organized a retrospective of his work that would travel to Montréal, Mexico City, and Caracas, Venezuela. In 1981, Riopelle was presented the Prix Paul-Émile-Borduas due to his contributions to cultural life.

Literature Source:
Gagnon, François-Marc. Jean Paul Riopelle: Life and Work. Art Canada Institute, 2019

We extend our thanks to Danie Klein, York University graduate student in art history, for writing and contributing this artist biography.