Lecture given by Ray Ellenwood, Professor Emeritus, York University, and author of Egregore: A history of the Montreal Autonomist movement.
Riopelle’s fascination with masks and artifacts from the Canadian West Coast and Arctic seems to have begun when friends in the Paris art world showed him objects they had acquired in New York during the war. Especially important in this regard was the well-known art critic, Georges Duthuit, who not only collected Indigenous art and wrote about it, but who was also enthusiastic about Riopelle’s work and highly influential in launching the painter’s career. Riopelle’s art reflected his fascination with masks for a number of years, beginning in the 1950s.
Ray Ellenwood is a retired professor of English, York University, and author of ten books of translation, French to English, mostly of Quebec literature, including the manifesto Refus global, written by members of the Montreal Automatist Movement. In addition to a number of articles and shorter translations on this topic, he wrote Egregore: A History of the Montréal Automatist Movement (Toronto: Exile Editions, 1992) of which a French translation by Jean Antonin Billard was published in 2014 in Montreal by Kétoupa Édition and les éditions du passage. Among his most recent publications is an essay for the fifth volume of the Jean Paul Riopelle Catalogue raisonné, published in 2020 by Hibou Éditeurs.
Crédit: Brenda Ellenwood. Ray Ellenwood standing next to a portrait of Claude Gauvreau (1993)