Mitchell-Riopelle: Sentimental and artistic journey in Brittany
#LANDERNEAU The Fonds pour la Culture Hélène & Edouard Leclerc invites us this winter to discover “a couple in excess”: the American painter Joan Mitchell (1925-1992) and the Canadian painter Jean-Paul Riopelle (1923-2002) are among those artist couples where passion and love and creation have become intertwined. The angle proposed by curator Michel Martin, art historian and specialist in Quebec art, is therefore not to compare the two works but to try to put into perspective how the practices of these two giants of modern art have respectively influenced each other. The large central photographic frieze representing the two artists in their daily lives as a couple underlines this common journey with great relevance.
It is therefore only logical that the chronology of their couple’s life will guide the visitor throughout the exhibition. It was in Paris that they met each other in a circle of American artists that Jean-Paul Riopelle also frequented. France will therefore be their common denominator. The attraction is immediate and the effects of this meeting are measurable. In Mitchell’s work, the concentric form explodes in favour of an unbridled gestural writing that animates the surface of the canvas. Riopelle, on the other hand, gives greater importance to white as a structural element that energizes his compositions. The period of the years on rue Frémicourt (1959-1967) when they both lived is the period of the most obvious resonances, it is also the period of the first dissonances of two strong personalities. The distance was to increase until 1974, when everyone moved to separate territories.
The break-up (1978-1979) caused a deep sense of abandonment and betrayal for Joan Mitchell. This heavy emotional burden will result in the production of an imposing polyptych that she will derisively call La Vie en Rose. This tumultuous relationship ended with the death of Joan Mitchell, who died in Paris on 30 October 1992. At the announcement of Mitchell’s death, Riopelle created a Tribute to Rosa Luxemburg, a long fresco of 30 paintings composed of signs and codes, alluding to her former partner.
This unique exhibition brings together mainly large-format paintings and a few works on paper from more than 30 lenders, private and museum collections, from France, Canada and the United States, and was conceived by the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec and produced in collaboration with the Musée des beaux-arts de l’Ontario and the Hélène & Edouard Leclerc Fund for Culture.
Mitchell / Riopelle – A couple in excess
from 16 December 2018 to 22 April 2019
Hélène & Edouard Leclerc Culture Fund
02 29 62 47 78
Open every day, from 10am to 6pm, continuously
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