Widely recognized as one of the most influential painters of the second half of the 20th century, Jean-Paul Riopelle became an international figure precisely in 1954, on the occasion of the first exhibition held by the mythical gallerist Pierre Matisse in New York. Followed by eleven others, this exhibition marked the beginning of a long fruitful and successful collaboration between these two major figures of postwar art, giving Riopelle access to the most prestigious private American collections and museums, like the Solomon R. Guggenheim of New York, which made the acquisition of a work in 1954.
1954 also marks a turning point from a formal standpoint. With Automne
, Riopelle undoubtedly produced one of his most majestic and captivating works. Since 1949, the artist had relentlessly worked the surface of his paintings with a knife, filling the space with small kaleidoscopic touches meant to render the profusion of the world. But in this work, unity is preserved is an inventive and masterful way. Absorbing the horizon and perspective under a thick polychromatic layer of oil, Riopelle here shows that it is possible to paint something while painting nothing, for the work conjures up forest, wide-open spaces and of course, autumn. Neither figurative nor representative of a specific place, the work masterfully captures the physical experience of nature, Riopelle's "only reference", which set him apart from his abstract expressionist contemporaries, and especially Pollock, with whom he however shared a lot of creative processes, like his famous dripping technique, still visible in the back of Automne
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These colors mysteriously mixed in a strange alchemy or used in their pure state, will turn into sky, rock, earth, blood, air, leaves and crystals.