LOT 024

1923 - 2002

oil on canvas
signed and dated 1958 and on verso signed, titled, dated on the labels, inscribed "G" / "119" / "RUT/NGB 2873" / "186", "28314" / "173" / "58309" on a label and stamped Douane Centrale, Exportation Paris
31 1/2 x 39 in, 80 x 99.1 cm

Estimate: $250,000 - $350,000 CAD

Sold for: $661,250

Preview at:

Galerie Jacques Dubourg, Paris
Galerie Motte, Paris and Geneva
Waddington and Tooth Galleries Ltd., London, England
Galerie Bernard Desroches, Montreal
A Prominent Montreal Estate

Jean Paul Riopelle, Svensk-Franska Konstgalleriet, 1959, listed page 8
Yseult Riopelle, Jean Paul Riopelle Catalogue Raisonné, Volume 2, 1954 - 1959, 2004, reproduced page 287, catalogue #1958.023H.1958

Svensk-Franska Konstgalleriet, Stockholm, Jean Paul Riopelle, 1959, catalogue #26
Galerie Bonnier, Lausanne, Maussion, Miotte, Mitchell, Mubin, Riopelle, Saura, 1961, catalogue #22

Throughout the important decade of the 1950s, within Parisian circles and internationally, Jean Paul Riopelle was regarded as an immense talent. He was deeply focused on mastering the medium of paint as an expressive material, sometimes directly applying paint from a tube onto canvas and using tools to manipulate the paint with a palette knife and spatula. His daughter Yseult Riopelle recounts him describing his paintings as “sculptures in oil,”[1] which is helpful when considering the three-dimensionality of canvases from this period.

Riopelle’s work would continue to gain recognition, and by 1958, the year Foison was painted, he had established a reputation few artists achieve by the young age of 35. Eminent Parisian dealers flocked to him, first Pierre Loeb and then Jacques Dubourg. This same year, Riopelle would receive an honourable mention at the Guggenheim International Award exhibition.

Concerning the title Foison, the French translation is literally an “abundance” or “very great quantity.” It is known that Riopelle was intentional when selecting titles for his paintings. The French meaning perhaps refers to his success and immense artistic output at this time. Even more curious is that the word “foison” in English, now rarely used, once referred to a “rich harvest” or “outpouring,” as evidenced in select late-sixteenth-century sermons brought from England to the New World by Mayflower pilgrims.

These themes of abundance, richness and outpouring deftly describe the compositional characteristics of our canvas. It is the richness and thickness of pigment, a mosaic of layered colour balanced by the white opacity, that creates the impression of a framing structure. We are led towards the pulsing heart of the canvas through a path of burning, fiery crimson. Riopelle had been employing this stylistic format for several years prior, when he allowed, as Michel Martin wrote, “his all-over impulse free rein, expanding the nature and tenor of his manipulations of the coloured paint-matter. In the process he guides the spectator’s gaze, which after roaming at random is forced back to the painting's principal plane by the clear presence of a median right-to-left axis, indicated by a series of whitish dabs, strokes and streaks.”[2] The presence of white would become more of a preoccupation for Riopelle as the decade progressed. His love of Canadian winters and the snow-capped mountains of the Alps was a natural inspiration, as was the innate challenge and complexity of using white as a pigment. With a canvas like Foison, the three elements of colour, volume and range of gloss are paramount to its radiance and beauty. These elements harmoniously combine to reflect light in different points of the canvas, creating both active and still spaces within the composition.

Foison has a notable European provenance and exhibition history. It was included in an exhibition at the Svensk-Franska Konstgalleriet in Stockholm in 1959 and at Galerie Bonnier in Lausanne in 1961.

1. As quoted in Marie-Claude Corbeil, Kate Helwig, and Jennifer Poulin, Jean Paul Riopelle: The Artist’s Materials (New York: Getty Conservation Institute, 2011), 11.

2. Michel Martin in Mitchell / Riopelle: Nothing in Moderation, ed. Catherine Morency (Quebec City: MNBAQ; Toronto: AGO, in assoc. with 5 Continents, 2017), exhibition catalogue, 28.

Estimate: $250,000 - $350,000 CAD

All prices are in Canadian Dollars

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