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LOT 038

Jean Paul Riopelle
1923 - 2002

Sans titre
oil on canvas, 1961
signed and on verso inscribed "D #42" / "6" / "2440" / "2315" / "20" and stamped with the canvas and stretcher manufacturer's stamp
51 1/4 x 63 3/4 in 130.2 x 161.9 cm

Estimate: $400,000 - $600,000

Sold for: $541,250

Preview at: PacArt, Toronto

Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York
Private Collection, New York
Acquavella Galleries, New York, #2440
Sold sale of Post-War and Contemporary Art, Tajan, Paris, May 24, 2007, lot 7
Private Collection, Monaco

Gilles Vigneault et al., Jean-Paul Riopelle, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 1991, page 34
Yves Michaud, Jean-Paul Riopelle: The Sixties, 1994, reproduced, unpaginated
Roald Nasgaard, Abstract Painting in Canada, 2008, page 82
Yseult Riopelle, Jean Paul Riopelle Catalogue Raisonné, Volume 3, 1960 - 1965, 2009, reproduced page 122, catalogue #1961.011H.1961

Didier Imbert Fine Art, Paris, Jean-Paul Riopelle: The Sixties, May 18 - July 13, 1994, catalogue #35

Sans titre is a thrilling large-scale work enlivened with a rhythmic use of colour, embodying Riopelle’s unique approach to abstraction. Thickly applied with his palette knife, the paint is built up in a dense texture that comes together in an organic whole. Emerald, yellow, cobalt, purple, red, white and black shards are arranged in large passages, creating a complex composition. Tangled black and maroon lines meander expressively throughout, leading the eye across the painting’s sweeping surface in a hypnotic dance. Four planes of colour, two white and two vibrant red, brighten the work and infuse it with space. These large expanses showcase the materiality of the paint itself, and its variegated hues are revealed via layers of thick impastos.
Sans titre was executed in 1961, a year during which Riopelle worked extensively on sculpture in his studio in Meudon, as made evident by the thick, near-sculptural surface of the piece. His generous and unrestrained application of paint often invited comparison to painter Jackson Pollock. However, Riopelle’s visual language was much more indebted to the Surrealists’ automatic painting and Impressionist painter Claude Monet’s colour compositions than Abstract Expressionism. In a 1957 article entitled “Old Master’s Modern Heirs,” Life magazine went as far as dubbing Riopelle, along with Hyde Solomon and Sam Francis, “Monet’s heirs.”
Riopelle had a deep admiration for the Impressionist master, and especially for his later works, such as his Water Lilies paintings. Art historian Roald Nasgaard explains: “From Monet’s work, Riopelle learned that color and texture could be used as an armature for painting. Riopelle, of course, did not abstract, did not proceed from a transcription of nature. But he was fully attentive to how Monet’s Water Lilies, even as they grew from the observation of water, plants and the reflected sky, could, when they dissolved the microscopic particulars of place into swirls of loose paint, aspire to macrocosmic reach.” Colour and texture were indeed the armature of Riopelle’s oeuvre, and Sans titre is no exception.
Evident in Sans titre, Riopelle’s complete mastery of his material, with which he creates dazzling chromatic harmonies, is akin to Monet’s use of colour and texture to transmit sensation. Speaking of Monet, Riopelle said: “My idea is not abstraction but much more how I get there via a free gesture (an autonomous brush-stroke)…to understand what nature is, and so not to start from deconstructing nature but to go in the direction of constructing the world…We know, if one had the opportunity to visit Giverny, the place where Monet painted his water lilies, you would see that it is only the size of a small pond. That is incredible; these huge, outsize pictures came out of a really small pond.” Riopelle’s unique approach to matter and colour is undeniable in Sans titre, and his gesture is expressive and lively, making this an outstanding work from this period.

Estimate: $400,000 - $600,000

All prices are in Canadian Dollars

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