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Jean-Paul Riopelle

Jean-Paul Riopelle
Photograph by Maurice Perron 1947

Born: 07 October 1923; Montreal, Canada

Died: 12 March 2002, Canada

Field: painting

Nationality: Canadian

Art Movement: Abstract Expressionism, Art Informel, Tachisme

School or Group: Les Automatistes

Genre: abstract

Jean-Paul Riopelle was a painter and sculptor from Quebec, Canada.

Born in Montreal, he studied under Paul-Émile Borduas in the 1940s and was a member of Les Automatistes movement. He was one of the signers of the Refus global manifesto. In 1949 he moved to Paris and continued his career as an artist, where he commercialized on his image as a "wild Canadian". In 1959 he began a relationship with the American painter Joan Mitchell. Living together throughout the 1960s, they kept separate homes and studios near Giverny, where Monet had lived. They influenced one another greatly, as much intellectually as artistically, but their relationship was a stormy one, fueled by alcohol. The relationship ended in 1979. His 1992 painting Hommage à Rosa Luxemburg is Riopelle's tribute to Mitchell, who died that year, and is regarded as a high point of his later work.

Riopelle's style changed gradually from Surrealism to abstract expressionism/tachisme, in which he used myriad soft cubes of colour, applied as flat planes with a palette knife, on large canvases to create powerful atmospheres.

In 1969 he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada, and began to spend more time in Canada. He was specially recognized by UNESCO for his work. One of his largest compositions was originally intended for the Toronto airport, but is now in the Opéra Bastille in Paris. In 1988 he was made an Officer of the National Order of Quebec and was promoted to Grand Officer in 1994. In 2000 Riopelle was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame.

In June, 2006 the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts organized a retrospective exhibition which was presented at the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia and the Musee Cantini in Marseilles, France. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has a number of his works, spanning his entire career, in their permanent collection.

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