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Item Name: Print
Title: Untitled
Maker: Jean-Paul Riopelle
Year: 1967
Country: Canadian
Materials: colour lithograph
Measurements: in frame: 47 cm x 82 cm; work: 38.1 cm x 76.2 cm
ID Number: PC2017.18

Extended Label Info: This lithographic print of a pattern in black and red looks non-representational. However, Jean-Paul Riopelle thought of his artwork as rooted in nature, and described his approach as “abstract landscapism”, that is, distanced from reality, but not separated. At the time he created this print, Riopelle spoke of being inspired by Monet’s late period waterlily paintings in which water, plants, and reflections blend seamlessly into a unified whole. Riopelle disliked being labelled and worked from a place of free experimentation and intuitive exploration. To understand the context of his work it is helpful to look at three mid-20th century contemporary art movements: Quebec automatism (which was informed by international Surrealism), French Lyrical Abstraction, and American Abstract Expressionism. Jean-Paul Riopelle (1923-2002) Born in Montreal, Jean-Paul Riopelle learned to draw and paint in a classical style as a teen. He entered the école polytechnique in 1941 to study engineering, architecture, and photography, but in 1942 he changed directions, enrolling at the école des Beaux-Arts and the école du Meuble to study art. His teacher Paul-émile Borduas encouraged abstraction and painting from the subconscious. Riopelle, Borduas and several others formed a close-knit group, exhibiting together as the Automatistes (1942-45). In 1947, Riopelle traveled to Paris, joining the Surrealist community of artists and writers. Inspired by Andre Breton’s Dadaist manifesto, Riopelle returned to Montreal and led the Automatistes in drafting an artist’s challenge to the rigid society in Quebec. Their manifesto, La Refus global (1948) became a central document in the era of social change in francophone Canada that followed, the Quiet Revolution. While in France, he developed a style using a palette knife to apply pure colour from the tube, as a distinctive method of painting “mosaics”. Throughout his career, Riopelle created paintings, sculpture, lithography, and assemblages, and in his final years, experimented with spray-paint and murals. His work is held in major collections internationally, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Tate Gallery in London, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice.