News Release

Lea Kabiljo, oral history expert and doctoral student in the Department of Art Education at Concordia University. Photo credit: Marc Bourcier / Concordia University.

Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Jean Paul Riopelle
Jean Paul Riopelle Foundation and Concordia University partner to collect oral history about the iconic Canadian painter

MONTREAL, May 17, 2021 – As a lead-up to the 100th anniversary of the birth of artist Jean Paul Riopelle in 2023, the Jean Paul Riopelle Foundation and Concordia University have teamed up for an ambitious project: to create a digital oral archive that will deepen our understanding of and share knowledge about the life and career of this world-renowned artist.

This three-year partnership, the result of a new collaborative agreement with the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling (COHDS) in Montreal, was made possible by a $150,000 grant from the Jean Paul Riopelle Foundation, with the generous support of The Audain Foundation and The Jarislowsky Foundation.

The grant will support the work of Lea Kabiljo, an oral history expert and doctoral student in the Department of Art Education at Concordia. Over the next few years, Kabiljo will collect stories from family members, friends and colleagues who knew and worked with Jean Paul Riopelle during his lifetime, as well as from contemporary artists who were influenced and inspired by Riopelle’s unique work. In her research, Kabiljo will work closely with Emma Haraké, COHDS’s coordinator, under the direction of Sébastien Caquard, COHDS’s co-director. The team will also benefit from the precious support of Colette St-Hilaire, researcher for the Riopelle Foundation.

The goal is to make these stories accessible to the general public as part of a new kind of digital project, which will enhance the broader understanding of the artist’s work and vision. The result of this partnership will be unveiled as part of the celebration of Jean Paul Riopelle’s centenary, scheduled for 2023.

“We are very proud to announce this new partnership and warmly thank Concordia University, the Audain Foundation and the Jarislowsky Foundation for their invaluable collaboration in this magnificent project. The extensive expertise of the COHDS team will enable the creation of a high-calibre digital oral archive, combining cutting-edge technology and the human factor in order to trace and document for posterity the extraordinary career of one of the world’s most influential 20th-century artists. This oral archive promises to take us beyond the images, photos and works of Riopelle to discover the artist behind the art. The stories collected through this partnership will be an invaluable legacy for future generations of artists who will surely find endless sources of inspiration.”

– Manon Gauthier, Executive Director, Jean Paul Riopelle Foundation

“Oral history is to history what pointillism is to painting; it allows us to arrange diverse and singular voices like so many dots on a canvas to offer an overall vision of a period, an event, a community, a life or a work. The project on the work and life of Jean Paul Riopelle is part of this perspective, as it takes a fresh and diversified look at the artist’s work, his era and his contemporary influence through the voices of those who worked with him or were inspired by him. The COHDS is honoured to collaborate with the Jean Paul Riopelle Foundation to redraw the contours of this artist’s work and life through the nuances and depth that oral history offers.”

– Sébastien Caquard, Co-Principal Director, COHDS, Concordia University

“It will be a privilege to deepen our knowledge of the man Jean Paul Riopelle beyond his art, through the anecdotes, experiences and memories of those who knew him personally or were inspired by his work. An artist of Riopelle’s calibre leaves his mark on the world around him in many ways. It will be fascinating to discover the extent of his influence on the art world from the past to the present.”

– Lea Kabiljo, Project Manager, COHDS at Concordia University

Lea Kabiljo: a multidisciplinary artist and researcher
Lea Kabiljo is a doctoral student in the Department of Art Education at Concordia University in Montreal. Her research interests include oral history, photography, empathy in a pedagogical context and teacher-education programs. Her art practice combines oral history and photography and she teaches visual arts at the high-school level, as well as undergraduate temporal media.

Kabiljo was previously the Executive Director of LOVE: Leave Out Violence, a leading violence-prevention organization for vulnerable youth. She is a recipient of the Fonds de recherche du Québec doctoral scholarship as well as numerous awards from Concordia.

Oral history: a thousand-year-old discipline
Since the dawn of time, knowledge has been transmitted through oral narratives. This traditional practice, which is particularly prevalent among the First Nations and Inuit of Canada, fascinated Jean Paul Riopelle. The artist even went so far as to dedicate an entire series of works inspired by the string games – “ajaraaq” in Inuktitut – played by young Inuit.

Linking oral history, virtual media, art and education, this collaborative project combines tradition and modern technology to ensure the stories collected about Riopelle’s life, work and influence will be passed on to future generations.

Public contributions to the oral archive project
Did you know Jean Paul Riopelle during his lifetime? Are you an artist whose work was partly influenced by Riopelle? The Riopelle Foundation and Concordia University want to hear your stories!

Stay tuned over the next few months as a public call goes out for contributions from all those who knew Jean Paul Riopelle during his lifetime, in Canada and around the world. Your story could be recorded by the COHDS team and added to our oral archive of the artist’s incredible life and prolific career.

About Concordia University
Concordia is a next-generation university, continually reimagining the future of higher education. Located in the vibrant and multicultural city of Montreal, Concordia is the top-ranked university in North America founded within the last 50 years and among the most innovative in its approach to experiential learning and cross-functional research. The university annually registers 51,000 diverse and engaged students, including over 10,000 international students from some 150 countries, in its Faculty of Arts and Science, John Molson School of Business, Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science and Faculty of Fine Arts and in Concordia Continuing Education.

About the Jean Paul Riopelle Foundation
Founded in 2019 by a group of Canadian philanthropists, the Jean Paul Riopelle Foundation’s mission is to celebrate and perpetuate Riopelle’s vision and work in Canada and around the world, to support and inspire emerging visual artists, to encourage creative exploration and experimentation, and to promote teaching and learning. The Foundation acts as a reference point for all matters relating to the artist’s work, and as a centre for research and analysis of documentation, publication and discourse on the work of Jean Paul Riopelle. The year 2023 will mark the Centenary of Jean Paul Riopelle.

Visit the website at

Subscribe now to the Foundation’s newsletter to make sure you don’t miss any of the latest news:

Sources: Jean Paul Riopelle Foundation & Concordia University

For more information:      

Raphaël Melançon
Trafalgar Strategies
514 444-6968

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

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!

Not yet following the Foundation’s social media accounts? Make sure to subscribe now so you do not miss anything in the future:





Joignez-vous à nous via et via nos réseaux sociaux.
Follow us via and via our social media.





Riopelle: The Call of Northern Landscapes and Indigenous Cultures

Jean Paul Riopelle is considered one of Canada’s most important and prolific artists of the 20th century. Published in conjunction with the exhibition Riopelle: The Call of Northern Landscapes and Indigenous Cultures, which will run at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) from November 21, 2020 to March 21, 2021, this catalogue takes a fresh look at the approach of this Québec painter and sculptor to reveal the prevalent influence of the North and Indigenous cultures on his body of work.

Read more

F for Foundation

A year in the making!

Born on October 7, 1923, Jean Paul Riopelle would have celebrated his 97th birthday today.

The Jean Paul Riopelle Foundation is celebrating its first year of existence on this day of October 7, also marking the birth of Riopelle, an iconic visionary, one of the most important cultural figures of the 20th century – a symbol of freedom and creativity.

Read more


From father to daughter: Meet our muse

Photograph: Yseult Riopelle by Steve Deschênes


Co-founder of the Jean Paul Riopelle Foundation, Yseult Riopelle plays an essential role in the fulfillment of his dream to see a foundation perpetuate his legacy. Inexhaustible source of knowledge, she contributes to the development of the foundation on a daily basis, adding anecdotes and fragments of history which inspire the actions of the Foundation and its dreams for the future.

Read more


Fall 2020: the colours of Riopelle

We are happy to announce an exciting program for the fall of 2020, a great cultural celebration of Riopelle with two exclusive publications and a superb exhibition at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts that will then tour across Canada as of spring 2021.

Gagnon, François-Marc
Translation by Donald Winkler
Jean Paul Riopelle and the automatiste mouvement
McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2020.
Sans titre, 1946.
Watercolour and ink on paper, 28.6 x 43.8 cm
© Estate of Jean Paul Riopelle / SOCAN (2020)

“This fascinating, important and superbly structured book has the effect of asserting Riopelle’s originality not only with respect to the Montréal Automatistes, but also to American painting and to Pollock in particular… ”
– Lora Senechal Carney, author of Canadian Painters in a Modern World, 1925 – 1955: Writings and Reconsiderations.

The artist Jean Paul Riopelle is best known for his renowned mature abstract style. In this fascinating history, François-Marc Gagnon begins with the artist’s first paintings and his early commitment to objectivity to explore Riopelle’s involvement with the Automatiste movement and its lasting impact on his work.

Read more


The Jean Paul Riopelle Foundation is proud to support the upcoming publication of Volume 5 (1972 – 1979) of the Catalogue raisonné de Jean Paul Riopelle along with loyal partners such as Galerie Simon Blais, Heffel and Power Corporation. This much awaited publication by Hibou Éditeurs will be a perfect companion to the great touring exhibition Riopelle: The Call of Northern Landscapes and Indigenous Cultures scheduled to open at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts on November 21.

The book will be available via the website of Catalogue raisonné de Jean Paul Riopelle and in museums and at select bookstores and partners. Stay in the know!

Read more

Auctions and sales