Artwork by Jean Paul Riopelle,  Ysoldus
Thumbnail of Artwork by Jean Paul Riopelle,  Ysoldus Thumbnail of Artwork by Jean Paul Riopelle,  Ysoldus Thumbnail of Artwork by Jean Paul Riopelle,  Ysoldus

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Cowley Abbott
326 Dundas St West
Toronto ON M5T 1G5
Ph. 1(416)479-9703

Lot #13

Jean Paul Riopelle

oil on canvas
signed and dated 1962 lower right; catalogue raisonné no. 1962.066H.1962
15 x 18 in ( 38.1 x 45.7 cm )

Auction Estimate: $150,000.00$100,000.00 - $150,000.00

Galerie Jacques Dubourg, Paris
Private Collection, Edmonton
Yseult Riopelle, "Jean Paul Riopelle: Catalogue Raisonné, Volume 3", 1960-1965, Montreal, 2009, reproduced page 177, catalogue no. 1962.066H.1962
François-Marc Gagnon, "Jean-Paul Riopelle: Life & Work" [online publication], Art Canada Institute, Toronto, 2019, page 65
Among the avant-garde Quebec abstract artists, Jean Paul Riopelle was the most celebrated figure on the international scene. He first travelled to France in 1946 and returned to Montreal for only a few months before settling in Paris until the 1970s. Riopelle soon met the Parisian art dealer Pierre Loeb, owner of Galerie Pierre, who promoted major Surrealist and Cubist artists, including Picasso and Miró. It was through Loeb that Riopelle met André Breton, who invited Riopelle to participate in the major Surrealist exhibition of June 1947 held at Galerie Maeght.

"Ysoldus", completed in 1962 while living in Paris, illustrates a new direction which Riopelle began to take in his paintings of the late 1950s. Though maintaining aspects of his mosaic-like paint application known as tachisme, Riopelle abandoned an all-over structure and atomized brushstrokes in favour of lines. François-Marc Gagnon writes: “Gone are the separate and distinct tiles of the mosaic works of the 1950s, that sense of an artist in search of a loss of vision and line. They are replaced with something new; now, the viewer can follow the path of the palette knife as it moves, leaving trails that sometimes look as if a finger has been drawn through the material. [...] The coloured areas are also more varied, resulting in a composition full of new possibilities.” This description applies to "Ysoldus", with organized palette knife strokes around the edges of the canvas, surrounding a tight arrangement of fluid lines in the centre. These lines, which look like they could have been drawn with a finger, nearly resemble recognizable shapes and letters. These loose depictions of indistinct forms would gradually evolve into figuration, which appear in his works towards the end of the decade, most commonly in the form of birds and animals.

Created during a vital and transitional period, "Ysoldus" highlights the artist’s consistent and rapid evolution in his exploration of oil painting.
Sale Date: May 30th 2024

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Cowley Abbott
326 Dundas St West
Toronto ON M5T 1G5
Ph. 1(416)479-9703

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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.