Jean-Paul Riopelle (Canadian, 1923-2002) Mint 1961

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Lot 6
Jean-Paul Riopelle
(Canadian, 1923-2002)
Mint
1961

£ 40,000 - 60,000
US$ 53,000 - 80,000
Jean-Paul Riopelle (Canadian, 1923-2002)
Mint
1961

signed
oil on canvas

38 by 55 cm.
14 15/16 by 21 5/8 in.

This work was executed in 1961.

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York
    Gallery Moos, Toronto
    Private Collection, Calgary
    Sale: Sotheby's, Toronto, Important Canadian Art, 26 May 2008, Lot 169
    Private Collection, Italy
    Sale: Farsettiarte, Prato, Dipinti e Sculture del XIX e XX Secolo, 29 November 2008, Lot 636
    Private Collection, Milan
    Acquired directly from the above by the present owner

    Literature
    Yseult Riopelle and Tanguy Riopelle, Jean-Paul Riopelle: Catalogue raisonné, Tome 3, 1960-1965, Montreal 2009, p. 126, no. 1961.025H.1961, illustrated in colour



    Mint from 1961 is an exquisite, gem-like painting, executed by one of the most important Canadian artists of the Twentieth Century, Jean-Paul Riopelle. With an enthralling cacophony of colours vigorously applied to the canvas in shades of piercing scarlets, mint greens and midnight blues against a broader backdrop of striated, earthy browns and thick set white, this is a work that is as vivid as it is dynamic. Here the paint has been brought to life, scraped by a palette knife across the surface of the canvas, then manipulated into ridges and furrows, the results standing as evidence of the artist's gestural motions as his energy breathes life into the medium. The bright tonal colour range on Mint, unusual for an artist who generally worked with a darker palette in this period, marks the present work as a rarity.

    Inspired by the Surrealist teachings of André Breton, Riopelle, a French-speaking Canadian, made a name for himself by moving to Paris in 1949. Despite still suffering from the dual legacy of war and occupation, the city was brimming with creativity attracting international artists, thinkers and writers all drawn by its creative possibilities. There Riopelle befriended Samuel Beckett, Alberto Giacometti and Joan Miró, all of whom encouraged his artistic endeavours. Art Informel had emerged in Paris as one of the many pioneering by-products of the conflict, as a style of gestural abstraction embraced by Riopelle it rejected both the representational art of earlier generations of artists, which was bourgeois and therefore culpable, as well as the precise minimal geometry of early abstraction which appeared cold and detached. With Europe coming to terms with the horrors of war and seeking to comprehend mankind's atrocities this new expressive art form was intuitive, liberating, spontaneous, and sought a resuscitation of the soul.

    Art Informel had many practitioners: Riopelle exhibited alongside Jean Dubuffet, Georges Mathieu, Jean Fautrier and Sam Francis amongst others, and counted many of these names amongst his friends. It was through Francis that Riopelle met fellow artist Joan Mitchell, who having established a reputation for herself in New York as an Abstract Expressionist (Art Informel's American relation), crossed the Atlantic to embrace the bohemian lifestyle on offer in Paris. Mitchell's paintings tackled paint with the same magnificent verve and aplomb as Riopelle, and their subsequent relationship was as rich and tumultuous as the canvases they individually produced.

    The present work, was originally acquired from the legendary Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York, which showcased some of the most important modern artists of its era, with Pierre Matisse (the gallery owner and also son of artist Henri Matisse) being instrumental in defining Modern and Contemporary Art in America. The fact that Riopelle exhibited there is testimony to his roots as a pioneering and enduring figure in the history of Twentieth Century art. The artist went on to represent Canada at the 1962 Venice Biennale where his work was awarded a UNESCO prize, and his paintings are now housed in the permanent collections of some of the world's most prestigious museums including, fittingly, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, as well as MoMA, New York, and the Tate, London. Mint serves as a wonderful reminder of both the artist's legacy and his mastery of paint, surface, colour and technique.
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