LOT 023

1923 - 2002

Sans titre (from the Gitksan Series)
gouache on paper, circa 1956
signed and on verso numbered N G 56215F on the Sears - The Vincent Price Collection label
19 1/2 x 25 1/2 in, 49.5 x 64.8 cm

Estimate: $30,000 - $50,000

Sold for: $97,250

Preview at: Heffel Toronto – 13 Hazelton Ave

Sears Roebuck & Co., The Vincent Price Collection
Sold sale of Fraser Brothers Ltd. Auctioneers, Montreal, October 1980
Private Collection, Quebec

Adréanne Roy et al., Riopelle: The Call of Northern Landscapes and Indigenous Cultures, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 2020, a similar 1956 work entitled Sous le mythe de Gitksan no. 4 reproduced page 70

Sears, The Vincent Price Collection

While living in Paris, Jean Paul Riopelle was exposed to artists and intellectuals who collected and wrote on Indigenous art, including André Breton, Claude Lévi-Strauss, and the Canadian anthropologist Marius Barbeau. It was the writer and historian Georges Duthuit who was most directly influential on Riopelle’s interest in Indigenous art and objects, and who first drew the deliberate connection between these and the artist’s own work.

Duthuit loaned Riopelle a Kwakwaka’wakw transformation mask, which spent some time in his Paris apartment. The wooden mask, with its articulations and ritual metamorphosis, has the sense of splayed movement that is readily evoked in the Gitksan series of gouaches that Riopelle produced in the late 1950s. Though at this time Riopelle still prioritized abstraction, the visual effect of these masks is immediately felt. Black marks are arranged obliquely around a central mass of colour, hemmed in by whites, perhaps suggesting the form of a mask without literally depicting one. The deliberate palette of white, black and red refers to the pigments used in the Indigenous weavings and painted wood carvings the artist would have been intimately familiar with.

This work was part of a collection of paintings assembled by actor and collector Vincent Price and Toronto gallerist Arnold Mazelow, and offered by Sears - perhaps signaling a contemporary interest in Riopelle’s explicitly homegrown inspiration.

This work is included as an addendum to Volume 2, 1954 – 1959 in Yseult Riopelle’s online catalogue raisonné on the artist’s work at http://www.riopelle.ca.

Estimate: $30,000 - $50,000

All prices are in Canadian Dollars

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