Creation of the
Jean Paul Riopelle Foundation

Riopelle, Atelier de L’Isle-aux-Oyes, Rosa, 1992 courtesy of Huguette Vachon


A celebration of the visionary artist Riopelle – an icon of freedom and creativity – as we approach the centenary of his birth in 2023

Montréal, October 3, 2019 – Michael Audain, O.C., O.B.C., Chairman of the Board of Directors, announces the creation of the Jean Paul Riopelle Foundation as a tribute to one of the most important artists of the 20th century. Born in Montréal in 1923, Jean Paul Riopelle cherished the dream of seeing his artwork inspire future generations of artists to explore, innovate and surpass their creative potential.

With an immense legacy collection of over 6,000 artworks, Riopelle, who also lived in France for over 40 years, was an ambassador of a rich Canadian heritage, a modern art visionary, a founding member of the Automatistes movement, a signatory of their 1948 Refus Global manifesto, and a painter, engraver, and sculptor.

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Inaugural Year: Rediscovering Riopelle

Carcajoux, 1971, Mixed media on lithographic essay, 120.5 x 160 cm
© Estate of Jean Paul Riopelle / SOCAN (2020)

The year 2020 will be marked by the presentation in the fall of an exceptional exhibition at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts entitled Riopelle: The call of Northern Landscapes and Indigenous Cultures.

This exhibition accompanied by a significant publication will contribute to the in-depth knowledge of the work of Riopelle (1923-2002). It will be an unparalleled opportunity to follow Riopelle’s pictorial and sculptural evolution through his recurring references to northern regions that fueled his imagination – notably James Bay, Hudson Bay, Nunavik and Nunavut – and the indigenous communities that live there. We discover a Riopelle who has absorbed the Surrealist interest in non-Western arts, as well as the influences of his friend and collector of indigenous art Georges Duthuit and the works of anthropologists such as Jean Malaurie and Claude Lévi-Strauss. In this regard, the exhibition will analyze Riopelle’s work in relation to some of the indigenous creations that inspired it, notably through a selection of Inuit masks and First Nations masks from the Northwest Coast.

This imagining of the North that feeds Riopelle’s production will be highlighted for the first time by a vast selection of leading works and archives. The exhibition comprises some 150 works from numerous museums and Canadian and international private collections, including that of Dr. Champlain Charest, friend of the artist with whom Riopelle travelled in the North and Far North of Québec and Canada, which will mark his practice both in its formal and iconographic dimensions.

Source: Montréal Museum of Fine Arts

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