Exclusive News – Winter 2021

Jean Paul Riopelle (1923-2002), Cap au nord, 1977, oil on canvas, 200 x 301 cm. Collection of Huguette Vachon. © Estate of Jean Paul Riopelle / SOCAN (2021). Photo archives Catalogue raisonné de Jean Paul Riopelle

“Icebergs are like ice cubes in a glass, soaking up all the colours around them.”
– Jean Paul Riopelle, 1979
(Quote taken from an interview about his fascination with the Great North)

Latest news from the Riopelle Foundation:

– Exclusive Interview: Yseult Riopelle

– Riopelle at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

– Riopelle at School: Inspiring the Next Generation

– Harmonium Symphonique: A Nod to Riopelle

– New Giveaway Coming Up!

Yseult Riopelle, editor and co-author of the Catalogue raisonné de Jean Paul Riopelle Tome 5 (1972-1979) and daughter of Jean Paul Riopelle.

To watch the video and read the complete interview, click here.

Yseult Riopelle: Three Decades Promoting her Father’s Artistic Legacy

With the fifth volume of the Catalogue raisonné de Jean Paul Riopelle freshly off the press, the Riopelle Foundation team interviewed Yseult Riopelle, daughter of the artist, editor and co-author with her son Tanguy Riopelle of this monumental work bringing together all of the artist’s oeuvre.

In this rare in-depth interview, Yseult Riopelle looks back at the last thirty years she has spent conducting research around the world to locate the nearly 7000 works of art produced by Jean Paul Riopelle during his prolific career.

She discusses her very beginnings, where she learned the basics of developing a catalogue raisonné from experts of Henri Matisse’s oeuvre, as well as how she came to be responsible for the protection of her father’s artistic legacy.

Yseult Riopelle reveals how she proceeds to find paintings and drawings, some of which remained untraceable since the 1950’s. This interview also reveals how the third generation of the Riopelle family is increasingly involved in the research and production of the Catalogue raisonné, with volume 6 already in preparation.

You will discover fascinating details on the life and youth of Jean Paul Riopelle, on his various sources of inspiration, his profound admiration for nature and Indigenous cultures and on the evolution of his art in the 1970’s, a decade covered by the fifth volume of the Catalogue raisonné. Finally, we discuss the artist’s ambitious vision for the Riopelle Foundation, a large-scale project he started dreaming of in the late the 1960’s.



Jean Paul Riopelle (1923-2002), Point de rencontre – Quintette (polyptych), 1963, oil on canvas, 428 x 564 cm (5 panels). Centre national des arts plastiques, Paris. © Estate of Jean Paul Riopelle / SOCAN (2021). Photo MMFA, Jean-François Brière

Meeting Place for Modern Art and Indigenous Cultures

Premiered last November, the exhibition Riopelle: The Call of Northern Landscapes and Indigenous Cultures is the result of more than 15 years of exhaustive research that allowed experts to deepen their knowledge of the artist’s unique relationship with nature, but also and above all with Indigenous cultures and the Canadian North.

Currently presented by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts as a virtual experience due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the exhibition will then move to the Audain Art Museum in Whistler, British Columbia, and to the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, Alberta, as part of a major Canadian tour, paving the way for Riopelle’s centennial celebrations in 2023. Other renowned museums could eventually be added to this already highly prestigious list.

A true meeting place between contemporary art and Indigenous cultures, the exhibition explores the influence of the First Peoples on the artist’s work. It provides a true immersion into a very prolific period for the artist leading to the late 1970’s. During these years, Riopelle’s work greatly evolved as he came to transpose into his art his deep admiration for the techniques and artistic traditions of the First Nations and Inuit Peoples – from West Coast masks to the melting icebergs, the vast snowy landscapes of the Great North and the wildlife he so loved to admire during his numerous hunting and fishing trips.

Made possible thanks to the financial support of the Audain Foundation, in collaboration with the Riopelle Foundation and many prestigious partners, the exhibition also features some never-before-seen works of art, including an exclusive presentation of La Fontaine. This monumental sculpture, made of painted plaster and ropes, was stored for decades in Jean Paul Riopelle’s studio before being recently restored by a MMFA’s team of experts. For the very first time in Québec, visitors can also admire the grandiose painting Point de rencontre, which is returning to Canada temporarily after more than 30 years at the Opéra Bastille in Paris.

The exhibition Riopelle: The Call of Northern Landscapes and Indigenous Cultures, curated by Andréanne Roy, Jacques Des Rochers and Yseult Riopelle, brings together no less than 160 works of art – including 110 paintings, sculptures and drawings by Riopelle – as well as 150 artefacts and archival documents showcasing and highlighting the richness of Indigenous cultures.

Described as a “ground-breaking show” by The Globe and Mail’s Kate Taylor, amongst many others, the exhibition remains accessible online, until the re-opening of the museum. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts also published a magnificent catalog for the occasion, on sale at the MMFA’s boutique and bookstore.

To visit the virtual exhibit on the MMFA website, click here.

View of the exhibition Riopelle: The Call of Northern Landscapes and Indigenous Cultures. Photo MMFA, Denis Farley

Forefront sculpture: Jean Paul Riopelle (1923-2002), La Fontaine, about 1964-1977, painted plaster and ropes, 400 x 300 x 300 cm. Private collection. © Estate of Jean Paul Riopelle / SOCAN (2021).

Riopelle, De Lorimier Street, Montreal, 1943

That year, Riopelle took a few classes at the Montreal School of Fine Arts, and then enrolled at the École du meuble where he met Professor Paul-Émile Borduas.

Riopelle at School: Inspiring the Next Generation of Artists

The Riopelle Foundation is proud to join forces with the Centre de services scolaire de Montréal (CSSDM) and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) to launch the new project Riopelle: Virtual Dreams, which aims at promoting the oeuvre of Jean Paul Riopelle amongst Montreal students from the 3rd grade of elementary school to the first years of high school.

This project is part of the exhibition Riopelle: The Call of Northern Landscapes and Indigenous Cultures presented by MMFA. From January to April 2021, in compliance with public health instructions, mediation activities will virtually put in contact a mediator in the Museum’s showroom with students at school. Complementary activities will also be organized in class to address certain artistic concepts that were dear to Riopelle.

Thanks to this project, the students of six Montreal classes will be able to immerse themselves in the universe of Riopelle and to experience a unique artistic project developing various skills. The complementary activities in the classroom were inspired by an educational module developed by Yseult Riopelle in 2003 for the exhibition Mutations de Riopelle in collaboration with the Centre d’exposition du Vieux-Palais de Saint-Jérôme. It has been adapted by the CSSDM’s educational services team, under the direction of Elyse Mathieu, with the support of the MMFA’s educational programs team. These activities were thought to be playful and are intimately linked to the spirit of the Surrealism and Automatiste Movements which played an important role in Jean Paul Riopelle’s career.

The Riopelle Foundation would like to thank all the partners involved in this important project which will allow the younger generation to learn more and be inspired by the artistic genius of Jean Paul Riopelle.

4th grade students from Ludger-Duvernay Elementary School, in Montreal’s St. Henri neighbourhood, participate in a mediation activity with art teacher Dominique Lachance and MMFA mediator Jacinthe Pépin, on January 25th, 2021. Screen capture provided by the CSSDM.

Artwork on the forefront: Grand Duc,1970, oil on canvas, 242 x 163 cm. Private collection. © Estate of Jean Paul Riopelle / SOCAN (2021).

Le Jacob-Chatou, 1954, oil on canvas, 200,6 cm x 300 cm. © Estate of Jean Paul Riopelle / SOCAN (2021)

Did you know?

It is a work by Jean Paul Riopelle, Le Jacob-Chatou, that is featured on the cover of the new double album Histoires sans paroles – Harmonium Symphonique, launched last December.

Under the musical direction of Simon Leclerc, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (OSM) and the Laval Youth Choir, with the contribution of Luce Dufault and Kim Richardson, perform symphonic versions of legendary Quebec group Harmonium’s greatest hits. The magic of the OSM brings us into the world of Harmonium, giving a new life to these timeless classics well known to all Quebec music lovers.

According to Harmonium’s lead vocalist and guitarist, Serge Fiori, it would be a musical first for Riopelle. One thing is for sure; it’s a great nod that allows for two mythical artists to meet on the same album.

Riopelle would certainly be proud of it!

To purchase this album or listen to free samples, visit harmoniumsymphonic.com/

The Catalogue raisonné de Jean Paul Riopelle, volume 5, 1972-1979

Text by Ray Ellenwood : Masks, the North and New Configurations – Les masques, le Grand Nord et les nouvelles configurations, 2017, followed by Addendum: The Question of Cultural Appropriation – Addenda: La question de l’appropriation culturelle, mars 2019

Research and direction by Yseult Riopelle et Tanguy Riopelle

French/English. Over 1300 copies – 552 pages. ISBN : 978-2-922623-04-8

Now available for sale on line:


Stay tuned!

Following the resounding success of our Riopelle as a Gift giveaway launched during the holiday season, which allowed two people to win copies of the book Jean Paul Riopelle and the Automatiste Movement written by François-Marc Gagnon and published by McGill-Queen’s University Press, the Riopelle Foundation team is preparing a new giveaway for you!

Keep an eye on our social media platforms over the next few weeks to participate and have a chance to win one of the brand new Volume 5 of the Catalogue raisonné de Jean Paul Riopelle, worth over $300!

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