November 21, 2020 – March 21, 2021
Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion – Level 2
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Montreal, September 1, 2020 – On November 21,2020, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) will launch a major exhibition dedicated to Jean Paul Riopelle (1923-2002), a towering figure in Canadian, Québec and international modern art. Based on original research, the exhibition will explore, the artist's interest in the North and Indigenous cultures, with nearly 175 works and more than 200 artefacts and archival documents. It will shed new light on the artist's work during the 1950s and 1970s by retracing the travels and influences that fed his fascination with northern regions and North American Indigenous communities.

The exhibition, Riopelle: The Call of Northern Landscapes and Indigenous Cultures, reveals an artist imbued with the surrealists' interest in non-Western arts, as inspired by his friend and collector, Georges Duthuit, and the writings of anthropologists and ethnologists, such as Marius Barbeau, Jean Malaurie and Claude Lévi-Strauss.

It explores the influence of Riopelle's hunting and fishing trips, with seaplane owner Dr. Champlain Charest, in the North and Far North of Quebec and Canada during the 1970s, as evidenced in the Jeux de ficelles (1971-1972), Rois de Thulé (1973) and Icebergs (1977) series. Using an intercultural approach, the exhibition offers an unprecedented parallel between Riopelle's works and some of the sources that inspired him, in particular a selection of Inuit masks and works of Pacific Northwest coast First Nations.

"In our search for the sources that stimulated the artist's imagination, we discovered a man inspired not only by nature but also by culture. Besides his contacts with Indigenous guides during hunting and fishing trips, it was primarily books and exhibitions, including Inuit and First Nations art,that awakened his interest in Indigenous communities, topographies and material cultures. This intellectual and artistic quest was particularly decisive during the 1950s and 1970s," explain curators Andréanne RoyJacques Des Rochers and Yseult Riopelle.

Works restored or not previously shown 
Following a path that is both chronological and thematic, the exhibition includes nearly 110 works by Riopelle (paintings, sculptures and works on paper) from the MMFA's collection and some 50 institutional and private collections in Canada, the United States and France. Of special interest will be the unveiling of two recently restored major works, the monumental sculpture Fontaine (circa 1964-1977), displayed for the first time, as well as the imposing canvas Point de rencontre (1963), the artist's sole commissioned work, previously exhibited at the Opéra Bastille in Paris. Also on display will be a 1946 watercolour by Riopelle that belonged to André Breton; a little-known series of remarkable works on silver-point paper; and several major works, including Blizzard Sylvestre (1953), L'étangHommage à Grey Owl (1970), D'un long voyage (1973) and Pangnirtung (1977). Artifacts and an extensive selection of documents (photographs, videos and extracts from unpublished correspondence) will help contextualize the artist's work.

In addition, there will be historical works from the Yup'ik, Kwakwaka'wakw and Tlingit communities – among others –, sources for the artist's vision, and works by contemporary Inuit artists, such as Luke Akuptangoak, Noah Arpatuq Echalook, Mattiusi Iyaituk, and Pudlo Pudlat, as well as Atikamekw artist César Newashish. Still others, such as Kwakwaka'wakwartist Beau Dick, will invite visitors to broaden their view of current Indigenous creativity. Similarly, the exhibition will incorporate a commissioned work by Tlingit artist Alison Bremner, Ceremonial Wealth (2020), as well as a new MMFA acquisition, A Gift from Doreen (2016-2019) by Cree artist Duane Linklater. 

An exhibition developed, organized and circulated by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

Curators: Andréanne Roy and Yseult Riopelle, guest curators, and Jacques Des Rochers, Curator of Quebec and Canadian Art (before 1945), MMFA.

Touring: Audain Art Museum, Whistler (spring-summer 2021), and Glenbow Museum, Calgary (fall 2021-winter 2022).
The ideal companion to the exhibition, this scientific work includes essays and a wealth of illustrations that allow us to explore the pervasive northern and Indigenous influences in the work of Jean Paul Riopelle. Using an interdisciplinary combination of art history and anthropology, this catalogue, edited by Andréanne Roy, Jacques Des Rochers and Yseult Riopelle, is enriched by the contribution of specialists, including several from Indigenous communities. 
Title: Riopelle : The Call of Northern Landscapes and Indigenous Culture
Editor: Publishing Department of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in association with 5 Continents Editions, Milan
Authors: Edited by Andréanne Roy, Jacques Des Rochers and Yseult Riopelle; with Nathalie Bondil, Serge Bouchard, Daniel Chartier, Florence Duchemin-Pelletier, Stacy A. Ernst, Leena Evic, François-Marc Gagnon, Mari Kleist, Ruth B. Phillips, Bruce Hugh Russell, Marc Séguin, Guy Sioui Durand and Krista Ulujuk Zawadski.
288 pages, more than 300 illustrations
Graphic design: Paprika, Montreal
ISBN: 978-2-89192-428-3(MMFA) / 978-88-7439-942-0 (5 Continents Éditions)
Release date: October 2020
Price: €45 / US $55. Available in the MMFA boutique and Bookstore at the special price of CA $54.95
About the artist
Jean Paul Riopelle (Montreal, 1923 – Isle-aux-Grues, 2002) is recognized as one of the most important and prolific Canadian artists of the 20th century. He studied at the École du Meuble de Montréal, where he met painter Paul-Émile Borduas and the Automatistes, with whom he signed the Refus global manifesto in 1948. While living in Paris, he met the Surrealists and art collector Georges Duthuit, who sparked his interest in Indigenous art and cultures. His work in the 1970s was influenced by a number of expeditions to Nunavik and Nunavut. Today, Riopelle is renowned worldwide, and his work is found in the public collections of over 60 cities, including the Guggenheim Museum in New York; the Center Pompidou in Paris; and the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC. The MMFA, which owns 370 of the artist's works, including 27 paintings, previously dedicated two major solo exhibitions to him in 1991 and 2002. The Jean Paul Riopelle Foundation was created in 2019 to preserve, promote and disseminate the artist's work, and to celebrate Riopelle's contribution to the history of international art as well as his immense artistic legacy, particularly in regard to the centenary of his birth in 2023.

An exhibition presented by Hydro-Québec
Major public partner: Government of Canada
Major patron: Audain Foundation 
In collaboration with Hatch, the Jean Paul Riopelle Foundation, the Heffel auction house, Tourisme Montréal and the MMFA's Angel Circle.
Official sponsors: Air Canada and Denalt Paints 
Media partners: Bell, La Presse and Montreal Gazette.
Public partners: Québec ministère de la Culture et des Communications (Ministry of Culture and Communications), Canada Council for the Arts, and Conseil des arts de Montréal 

Jean Paul Riopelle (1923-2002), Point de rencontre – Quintette (polyptych), 1963, oil on canvas, 428 x 564 cm (5 panels). Centre national des arts plastiques, Paris. Inv. FNAC 90069. © Estate of Jean Paul Riopelle / SOCAN (2020). Photo CNAP
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Patricia Lachance
Media Relations Officer | MMFA
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Maude N. Béland
Media Relations Officer | MMFA
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About the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Drawing over 1 million visitors annually, the MMFA is one of the most visited museums in Canada and North America. Its highly original temporary exhibitions combine various artistic disciplines – fine arts, music, film, fashion and design – and are exported to the four corners of the world. Its rich encyclopedic collection, displayed in its five pavilions, includes international art, arts of One World, decorative arts and design, and Quebec and Canadian art. The Museum has seen exceptional growth in recent years with the addition of two new pavilions and one new wing: the Claire and Marc Bourgie Pavilion in 2011, the Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion for Peace in 2016, and the Stephan Crétier and Stéphany Maillery Wing for the Arts of One World in 2019. The MMFA complex also includes Bourgie Hall, a 460-seat concert hall, as well as an auditorium and a movie theatre. The MMFA is one of Canada's leading publishers of art books in French and English, which are distributed internationally. The Museum also houses the Michel de la Chenelière International Atelier for Education and Art Therapy, the largest educational complex in a North American art museum, enabling the MMFA to offer innovative educational, wellness and art therapy programmes. 
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
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