The Catalog raisonné of Jean Paul Riopelle’s work is the culmination of 27 years of research and prospection. The total absence of archives prior to 1985 – the artist himself having kept no inventory of his works before that date – made it necessary for us to go up all the channels brought to his knowledge and to ask for access to private and public collections around the world.
Hard-working as she was, this research is especially marked by respect for the work of Jean Paul Riopelle, a real work of detective conducted tenaciously for nearly 27 years. Today, it allows you to present four important compilations of the works of my father, an artist recognized as one of the most outstanding of the twentieth century.
More than a catalog raisonné, these books are also art books accompanied by unpublished texts that bring a change of perspective on the understanding of the works and a new light on the history proper of each period.
It is regrettable that some archives have not been made available to us. This would have made it possible to add relevant information to these reference works, the realization of which was necessary to guarantee the authenticity of Jean Paul Riopelle’s work.
Cutting of different volumes
Volume 1: 1939-1953 (published in 1999)
Volume 2: 1954-1959 (published in 2004)
Volume 3: 1960-1965 (published in 2009)
Volume 4: 1966-1971 (end of 2013)
Volume 5: 1972-1978
Volume 6: 1979-1984
Volume 7: 1985-1989
Volume 8: 1990-1992
Catalog raisonné of prints (published in 2005)
The volumes 1 to 8 present all the techniques explored by the artist, which I wanted to make the reading interactive. For each volume, the classification of works is presented according to the following plan:
1) the chronology of oils on canvas;
2) the chronology of works using techniques other than oil painting;
3) the chronology of sculptures and enamelled lavas.
The works have been registered in the catalog as and when they are rediscovered and classified, as a rule, according to the year of their creation. The registration number (corresponding to the number under which the work is classified in the archives of Jean Paul Riopelle as constituted) does not constitute a chronological indication within the same year.
Throughout his career, Jean Paul Riopelle has created series, for specific periods of a few weeks or even a few months. Each series overlapped very often from one year to the next. Some works have been signed and dated several years after their creation, by Riopelle himself or by third parties, which can be confusing in some cases.
Worksheet of the works
For each of the works, the technical sheet includes, if applicable, the following elements:
The registration number
For oils, the registration number is followed by the letter H and the year of completion, possibly preceded by the letter V for “to”.
For works on paper, the registration number is followed by the letter P and the date or dates of completion for the enhanced prints, preceded by the letter V for “to” in some cases.
For sculptures and lava, the registration number is followed by the letters SC or L and, depending on the case, the date of creation or the date of the cast for the bronzes.
Title or titles
Some works may have been titrated several times and this, not only innocently (see surrealist titles). In addition, many titles, not inscribed on the back of the works, were unfortunately misplaced, which explains, in part, the profusion of untitled annotations. We did not use the composition annotation, this name without numbering being too vague to be considered as a title. Titles inscribed by the hand of the artist are often annotated on the back of the works. Unfortunately, we were unable to access the back of all the works.
Unusual in Riopelle, the title, often presented in the form of an “explanatory” sentence, appears on the front of most paper acrylics of the 1971-1972 string series. Without a doubt, for once, Riopelle has found it appropriate to explain with words his new artistic approach to make it more accessible to its audience.
Considering the atypical aspect of certain works, their dating is approximate and bears the mention “towards”. The dating of some works has also proved extremely difficult, as it was the case for collages and montages including prints enhanced or not. Practice dear to Jean Paul Riopelle and which affects more than 70% of the production of some years. Technique that I would call recurrent reappropriation of his own images.
The sculptures were made of clay, earthenware, stoneware and porcelain, or plaster – the result of molding molded works in clay -, in the assembly of screeds in some cases polychrome or bronze. For volume 1, only three photographic documents for three sculptures made in 1948, destroyed in a natural way, could be traced. This series counted at most a dozen works of raw earth.
Only the metric system is used. Some works could not be measured, because they have not been traced, the dimensions are marked “(?)”. Eventually, additional information will be added in the following volumes.
The following abbreviations are used:
SBD for signed lower right;
SBG for signed lower left;
SBM for signed down in the middle;
SHD for signed upper right;
SHG for signed top left.
The signature may be followed, if necessary, by the date. All the dates on the front or back of the works initialed by Jean Paul Riopelle are by the annotation of the last two digits, for example 44, 45, 46, 47, 48. Some works bear two signatures on the front.
Sometimes, in the case of oils, the signature is etched into the dough. Some works, usually small format, have been signed “R”. Gradually, the signature evolves from “Jean Paul Riopelle” to “J.P. Riopelle “,” JP Riopelle “and” Riopelle “around 1952, until Riopelle uses around 1995 the signature” Jean Paul Riopelle “to sign works previously done.
It is not uncommon that works are not signed. Many of them were signed several years after their completion, the date of their creation can not be specified from the analysis of signatures. It was also found that, on several authentic works not signed by Riopelle, his signature was later added by third parties, for reasons of commercialism. The work is authentic, but the signature has been counterfeited. We also observed some signatures made by the artist in lead pencil and enhanced by others in ink or with paint, a process that unfortunately hides the original signature.
In order to meet the desire for privacy of most collectors, we only mention public collections. The mention private collection, even supplemented by a mention of the location (eg “private collection, Paris”), is not an information element significant enough to us to be worth mentioning.
We only indicate the names of art galleries that have obtained the works directly from the artist.
It was extremely difficult to trace with certainty the works presented in each of the exhibitions given the absence of studio archives, the relative rarity of visual documentation and the absence of titles of works in the catalogs of known exhibitions. .
This section includes references to the work of Jean Paul Riopelle: books, exhibition catalogs, invitations, magazines, newspapers, posters and various publications.
Color reproduction section
The presentation of the reproductions meets criteria based on the aesthetics of the work itself and the harmonization of the presentations. It has nothing to do with the chronology of the works.
In this respect, it is regrettable that we have not had access to a certain number of photographic documents of sufficient quality to be reproduced in this section.
We must point out that it was impossible to completely reduce the reflections on certain reproductions without altering the reading of the document. These reflections are partly attributable, on oil paints, to the untimely application of varnish. This practice modifies the perception of colors and harms the conservation of works. It goes especially against the wishes of Jean Paul Riopelle, who never wanted to use this technique incompatible with its aesthetic criteria.
Counterfeits and attributions
Most of the counterfeits and attributions are so clumsy that it is easy, even for an amateur, to detect them. Especially since some clues – false certificates of authenticity, fake easily identifiable gallery tags and many inappropriate or questionable stamps – are sometimes provided with excessive profusion and have nothing to do with the visual aspect of the work proper. Moreover, they do not take into account the evolution of the artist’s style and technique or his changes in habits. A large part of the works proposed in expertise are attributions in the manner of and, sometimes, counterfeits and this, recurrently. Unfortunately, in the absence of legislation in this area in Canada, these forgeries remain in circulation and can not be removed from the market without the collaboration of their owners.
The electronic presentation
The CD-ROM was designed to be a reference and accessibility tool complementary to the traditional book. Mainly it takes each technical sheet. In order to allow an optimized visual reading, a reference is indicated towards the traditional publication. The diversity of tools allows to find a work or to group several (by date, dimensions, exhibitions, important publications …). The possibility is offered to the consultant to print the complete sheet of each work.
The updates will be offered regularly on the site. They will include the sheets of the rediscovered works, the errata, the complements of information collected during the most recent researches, such as the bibliographical information and the exhibitions and in particular after the publication of each corresponding volume.