AUTO CAS OC QMG RCA SCA
1923 - 2002
oil on canvas
signed and dated 1957 and on verso titled, dated on the gallery labels and inscribed "Matisse" and "ST #C203"
13 x 21 1/2 in, 33 x 54.6 cm
Estimate: $100,000 - $150,000
Sold for: $337,250
Preview at: Heffel Toronto – 13 Hazelton Ave
Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York
Continental Fine Art, Vancouver
The Art Emporium, Vancouver, September 29, 1975
Estate of Mary and Harry Klonoff, Vancouver
Yseult Riopelle, Jean Paul Riopelle Catalogue Raisonné, Volume 2, 1954 - 1959, 2004, reproduced page 249, catalogue #1957.013H.1957
Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York, 1957, catalogue #10
Gallery Moos Ltd., Toronto, 1975, catalogue #14
The exhibition and previous ownership history of Nordique tells us one part of a story that reflects the evolution and growing appreciation of Jean Paul Riopelle’s work throughout his stellar career, spurred on by events in the early 1950s. Settled in Paris and still in his early 30s, Riopelle had a growing reputation, which led to his works increasingly being on view in several Paris galleries, topped off by his joining the renowned Galerie Pierre Loeb in 1953. His successful debut there soon led to his inclusion in the exhibition Younger European Artists, mounted by the Guggenheim Museum in New York that same year. Soon after, he was invited to participate in a group exhibition at the Pierre Matisse Gallery, which had been established in New York in 1931. Pierre Matisse, the son of the incomparable master, Henri Matisse, represented a star-studded list of contemporary artists, and so Riopelle’s debut there was in the outstanding company of many of the most sought-after artists of the post-war period - Marc Chagall, Constantin Brâncusi, Alberto Giacometti and Joan Miró, to name only a few.
Despite some New York critics’ clearly defensive responses to his work – such as insisting on defining Riopelle as a European rather than a North American artist and therefore “old-school” when compared with the American post-war abstract artists – Riopelle’s works from this period established him as an international name to be reckoned with. Furthermore, this was the beginning of a long friendship with Pierre Matisse, who regularly exhibited his work in all media and became a major source of Riopelle’s finest works for many years to come. The close connection between the art dealer and the artist was marked by the gallery’s final exhibition, a solo show dedicated to Riopelle, not long before Pierre Matisse’s passing in 1989. Long before that bittersweet exhibition, Nordique had found its way to Canada through two Vancouver galleries before entering the Klonoff Collection.
One can sense that Riopelle’s focus and energy did not depend on whether he was creating a monumental work of art or one of a more modest size. Nor did that focus falter when he was producing works in any of the other media – watercolours, collages, graphics, sculpture – that he expertly tackled. His Nordique demonstrates, as do so many other of his paintings, the power and appeal of a Riopelle image no matter its dimensions. By 1957, he had essentially stopped using the paintbrush and drip technique to execute his images on canvas and had mastered, as his primary technique, the application of pigment straight out of the tube, with a palette knife. The result was a sparkling series of paintings often referred to as his “mosaic” images.
Our spritely example, composed with the artist’s assured palette knife application of weighty pigment and surprising, yet visually resolved alterations of hue, reminds us of the artist’s appreciation of the natural world – here, perhaps an unanticipated memory of his experience of “the North” and the Quebec landscape he knew so well. The viewer’s eye travels easily from the calming grey and white tones interspersed with lemony yellow streaks, like sunlight penetrating the clouds, soon heading to meet an icy-blue sea or sky, then coming to rest comfortably against a rich, dark red, solid rampart.
For the biography on Mary and Harry Klonoff in PDF format please click here.
Estimate: $100,000 - $150,000
All prices are in Canadian Dollars
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