Lot Sale Results

Jean Paul Riopelle

Jean Paul Riopelle

Jean Paul Riopelle
Post-War & Contemporary Art Live auction

Lot # 016

Jean Paul Riopelle
AUTO CAS OC QMG RCA SCA 1923 - 2002 Canadian

oil on canvas
signed and dated 1958 and on verso signed, titled, inscribed variously and stamped with Paris export stamps and with the Arthur Lenars & Cie, Paris shipping label
23 5/8 x 28 3/4 in  60 x 73cm

Galerie Jacques Dubourg, Paris
Svensk-Franska Konstgalleriet, Stockholm
Private Collection, Stockholm
Sold The Modern Sale 581, Bukowskis, October 21, 2014, lot 228
Galerie Thomas, Munich
The Art Emporium, Vancouver
Private Collection, Los Angeles

Svensk-Franska Konstgalleriet, Stockholm, Riopelle 1949 - 1959, 1959, catalogue #24
Art Basel, Galerie Thomas, Munich, 2016

Lances from 1958 is an exemplary work by Jean Paul Riopelle made at a time of his rise to international prominence. It is thoroughly indicative of the evolution of his renowned, highly personal abstract vocabulary.

Riopelle is recognized for his immense contributions as an eminent, inspirational founding member of Les Automatistes. He is likewise noted as a confrere of key international artists of post-war Europe, among them Georges Mathieu, Alberto Giacometti, André Masson and Max Ernst. These close associations led to his inclusion in exhibitions of the international Surrealist movement. In these exhibitions, his flamboyant all-over abstractions of the early 1950s shared affinities with the work of Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline and the American Abstract Expressionists. His work was heralded by prestigious public and private galleries in Europe, including that of Pierre Loeb in Paris, and the Pierre Matisse Gallery in New York (from 1953).

In 1952 Riopelle participated in the Venice Biennale and again in 1954 represented Canada, together with B.C. Binning and Paul-Émile Borduas (his work was also included at Venice in 1962). His work was included in the 1953 Younger European Painters exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City. Riopelle received an Honorable Mention at the 1955 Bienal de Săo Paulo.

Thus by the mid-1950s Riopelle was an acknowledged contributor to the movements of Surrealism and Automatisme. His mosaic-like all-over abstractions were emblematic of the spirit of “the new art,” which patterned the entire canvas surface with recurring gestures consistently from edge to edge. These accomplishments alone would have secured the artist a permanent place within the pantheon of international art history.

Yet, ever restless and inventive, Riopelle left behind these prior stylistic approaches that had made his reputation. In 1956, his works began to shift considerably in character. By 1958 (the year of Lances), he had rebirthed his art, carving out distinctly inimitable formats. He risked going forward by going backwards. Riopelle re-introduced the tradition of figure-ground relationships and part-by-part relational compositions. He had also recommenced work on sculpture; thus, the notion of a form set amidst space may have also informed his new pictorial lexicon.

Riopelle emphatically stated that his paintings were purely non-objective, not derived as abstractions from nature. Instead, within the legacy of automatic Surrealism, they would commence in the absence of preordained structural thoughts. A first mark called for a counterbalancing action, creating a myriad of intuitive gestural responses until a sensed formal harmony was achieved.

However, the works from the mid-1950s onwards operate quite differently. Lances would appear to be guided by reference to a governing thought. Its title, Lances, might connote either the noun, a trundle of pointed spears, or else the verb, the action of lancing or spearing. The formal decisions made about which types of gestural actions, marks and colours seem derived. Lances is about “something.” Even if this is solely a feeling or emotion, the painting’s assertive posture defines a mood.

Lances was created in 1958, a hallmark year that showcased an astonishing series of Riopelle works in exhibitions on two continents. These included shows in London, Brussels, Cologne, Wuppertal and Hanover, as well as at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum and the National Museum of Modern Art, Paris. Riopelle received an Honorable Mention at the Guggenheim Museum’s Guggenheim International Award exhibition in 1958, and a major retrospective of his work was held at the Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne. Lances is at the heart of the artist’s principal achievements of this crucial period.

Riopelle was the most internationally renowned, successful Canadian artist born in the twentieth century. He is one of two Canadians whose work is chronicled in H.H. Arnason’s History of Modern Art, used for decades worldwide as the standard university text.

We thank Jeffrey Spalding for contributing the above essay. Spalding is an artist, curator, author and educator. For more than 40 years, Spalding has served in leadership roles at art museums and educational institutions. He is currently an Art Consultant for the Tao Hua Tan Cultural and Creative Company, and a Lifetime Senior Artist, Tao Hua Tan International Artist Creative Residency, China.

This work is included as an addendum in Yseult Riopelle’s online catalogue raisonné on the artist’s work at http://www.riopelle.ca.

Estimate: $200,000 ~ $250,000 CAD

Sold For: $871,249.97 CAD (including buyer's premium)

Heffel's remains the premier venue to buy and sell important Canadian Art. We continue our tradition of market leadership with record breaking auctions. At Heffel's, you will work with the most experienced team of specialists in the business to help you buy and sell your fine art. Consign with Heffel and we will provide you with the best opportunity to maximize the value of your works.