Giant Mural Planned at the Heart of Downtown Montreal to Celebrate Jean Paul Riopelle’s Centenary in 2023

Riopelle Foundation, City of Montreal, MU and Tourisme Montréal join forces to honour the legendary Montreal-born artist, alongside other great cultural builders such as Leonard Cohen.

MONTREAL, September 24, 2021 – Almost a year ahead of the official start of Jean Paul Riopelle’s Centenary Celebrations, of which the theme and major projects will be made public this fall, the Jean Paul Riopelle Foundation unveils a first major legacy project which already promises to become, by the fall of 2022, an iconic landmark of the artist’s native metropolis, Montreal.

In collaboration with MU, a new giant mural artwork nearly 60 meters (190 feet) high will be realized on a prestigious site located at the corner of Sherbrooke and Peel streets, at the heart of downtown Montreal.

MU: Riopelle inducted amongst Montreal’s great cultural builders

The artist, who died in 2002, will thus join other legends of the Montreal cultural stage similarly honoured in the past years, including Leonard Cohen, whose monumental mural is located just a few blocks away from Riopelle’s.

Thanks to the City of Montreal’s financial support, the Riopelle Foundation announces today that it will grant MU $50,000 to deploy, over the coming months, a call for proposals from artists of various backgrounds in view of developing a model for this new mural. The selection of the winning proposal will be conducted by a jury bringing together art experts and chaired by Yseult Riopelle, commissioner emerita of the Centenary Celebrations, co-founder of the Riopelle Foundation, author of the Catalogue raisonné de Jean Paul Riopelle and daughter of the artist.

“The Riopelle Foundation is absolutely delighted to confirm, as we prepare to celebrate the artist’s 100 th birthday, the realization of this very first anchorage for Jean Paul Riopelle in his native metropolis” said Jean Paul Riopelle Foundation executive director Manon Gauthier. “Montreal will obviously be at the center of the artist’s Centenary Celebrations and today’s announcement provides a glimpse of the great festivities that will begin in the fall of 2022 and which will remind us all of Riopelle’s unique cultural legacy for the history of art in Canada and around the world. We wish to thank our precious partners who made possible this project, the first milestone in a series of great celebrations that will be announced in the coming months.”

Elizabeth-Ann Doyle, co-founder, executive and artistic director of MU, underlined her organization’s pride in taking part in this vast project which will allow for Riopelle to take a well-deserved place amongst MU’s collection of murals honouring Montreal’s great cultural builders. Launched in 2010, this collection aims at recognizing the invaluable contribution of the city’s creators from different artistic disciplines. “Alchemist of matter, man of wit and knowledge, Riopelle’s boundless imagination brought us, and still brings us today, an immense cultural treasure. MU wants to pay tribute to the artists whose creative force has made Montreal an exceptional city. In fact, paying homage to cultural builders means above all recognizing the essential contribution of these artists in the construction and evolution of our identity. It is also reaffirms the importance of culture in our society.”

City of Montreal: A first recognition for Riopelle in view of the 2023 celebrations

“For the City of Montreal, mural art is a privileged means to make culture more accessible to as many people as possible and to embellish our city. Born and raised in Montreal, Jean Paul Riopelle has left us an important collective cultural heritage that we must highlight. That’s why we are proud to support this large-scale commemoration project which will allow us to celebrate Riopelle’s legacy, prepare for the celebrations of his centenary and introduce his work to Montrealers and visitors,” declared Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante.

The City of Montreal’s financial contribution to the Jean Paul Riopelle Foundation will allow the creative process to begin as part of the call for projects to be held in the fall of 2021 and during which three finalist artists will be invited to develop a concept for the future mural.

Tourisme Montréal: Bringing the mural to light

Tourisme Montréal will financially support the elaboration of a lighting plan which will enhance the view of the artwork night and day.

“Happy to welcome in 2022 the mural in tribute to the great Jean Paul Riopelle, Tourisme Montréal is proud to participate in its lighting and to help make this work an artistic reference in Montreal, just like Leonard Cohen’s mural, for which we also supported the realization of a lighting plan. Through such actions, Tourisme Montréal wishes to actively participate in the development of our destination as well as the in urban improvement that will benefit both tourists and Montrealers,” explained Yves Lalumière, president and chief executive officer of Tourisme Montréal.

Celebrations across Canada and around the world

The unveiling of the new mural, scheduled for the fall of 2022, will officially kick off Riopelle’s Centenary Celebrations which will give way, for an entire year, to a host of exhibitions and cultural performances highlighting local and international talent in a multitude of artistic disciplines, as well as educational and commemorative activities. The theme and major projects of these festivities will be made public by the end of 2021 and the full program will be released by the spring of 2022.

Montreal, as Riopelle’s birthplace, will celebrate with great fanfare his precious contribution, hosting many world premieres, cultural events and other major legacy projects during the centenary year, which will also include many international collaborations.

Exhibitions will be held across Quebec and Canada during the same year, some of which will then embark on an international tour. Eventually, a prestigious address entirely dedicated to Riopelle’s oeuvre will ensure, for generations to come, a permanent anchoring for the Riopelle Foundation in the province of Quebec.

About the Jean Paul Riopelle Foundation

Envisioned by Riopelle in the 1960s, the Jean Paul Riopelle Foundation was established in 2019 by a group of Canadian philanthropists. Its mission is to celebrate and broaden the appreciation of Riopelle and his oeuvre in the history of Canadian and international art, support and inspire emerging visual artists, encourage creative exploration and experimentation, and promote teaching and learning. The Foundation also serves as a repository and centre of scholarship in the documentation, publication and discourse on the oeuvre of Riopelle. The year 2023 will mark the centenary of his birth and will be the occasion of an ambitious celebration program in Canada and worldwide.
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About MU

MU is a charitable non-profit organization whose mission is to beautify the city of Montreal by creating murals that are anchored in local communities. At the heart of its approach is a desire to create art that is seen and experienced on a daily basis, trigger social change and turn Montreal into an open-air MUseum. In 15 years, MU has produced more than 150 large-scale murals in 18 neighbourhoods of the city and multiple community-youth murals as part of its educational program. The organization is recognized for its Montreal’s Great Artists collection, which includes the iconic mural honoring Leonard Cohen, overlooking downtown Montreal. MU was awarded the 34 th Grand Prix du Conseil des arts de Montréal in recognition of its social inclusion work, artistic vision and murals, which have become true Montreal landmarks.
Facebook: | Twitter: @MUMTL | Instagram: @MUMTL

About Tourisme Montréal

Tourisme Montréal is a 100-year-old private, non-profit organization that works to position Montreal as an international-calibre leisure and business travel destination. Uniting nearly 1,000 businesses and organizations working directly or indirectly in tourism, Tourisme Montréal plays a leading role in the management and development of Montreal’s tourism business, and makes recommendations on issues surrounding the city’s economic, urban and cultural development.
Facebook: | Twitter: @MonMontreal | Instagram: @montreal

From left to right: Manuela Goya, vice-president, development of the destination and public affairs at Tourisme Montréal; Manon Gauthier, executive director of the Riopelle Foundation; Yseult Riopelle, chair of the jury, commissioner emeritus of the Centenary Celebrations, co-founder of the Riopelle Foundation, author of the Catalogue raisonné de Jean Paul Riopelle and daughter of the artist; and Elizabeth-Ann Doyle, co-founder, executive and artistic director of MU, in front of the building where the monumental mural will be realized over the next year in tribute to Jean Paul Riopelle. Photo credit: Jean Paul Riopelle Foundation.