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AGO Presents a Celebration of Two Giants of Modern Art

Mitchell/Riopelle: Nothing in Moderation explores the artistic relationship between two powerhouses of abstract painting, Joan Mitchell and Jean Paul Riopelle


On February 18, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) presents Mitchell/Riopelle: Nothing in Moderation, a groundbreaking exhibition that examines the artistic dialogue that took place between American painter Joan Mitchell and Canadian artist Jean Paul Riopelle during their 24-year romantic relationship.

Through more than 50 carefully selected works – most are large-format, monumental paintings – the exhibition explores the push and pull of these two remarkable figures. Extraordinary talents and romantic partners, Mitchell and Riopelle stand prominently alongside other modern art couples such as Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, and Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner. Like many partnerships, their relationship ebbed and flowed, and this fluidity can be tracked through the blending and separation of their respective painting styles.

With Mitchell/Riopelle: Nothing in Moderation, the AGO celebrates the work of one of Canada’s most eminent abstract artists, Jean Paul Riopelle, known for participating in the Montreal-based collective, Les Automatistes. The AGO also honours the legacy of Joan Mitchell, an influential artist who emerged in New York during the heyday of American Abstract Expressionism.

“Feasts for the eyes, the stunning and breathtaking pictures Mitchell and Riopelle produced are testaments to the artists’ respect and admiration for one another. They also reveal that Mitchell and Riopelle took nothing, especially painting, in moderation when they were setting the agenda of abstract art in Europe and North America in the years following World War II,” says Kenneth Brummel, Assistant Curator, Modern Art, at the AGO.

With a focus on works from the 24-year period between their first meeting in 1955 until their separation in 1979, the exhibition shows how the two artists, who lived together in Paris, then in Vétheuil in the Seine valley, developed unique but related bodies of work while they were engaging in a vigorous exchange about abstraction and painting. Their love of nature and French Impressionism as well as their desire to challenge the status-quo drew the two artists together, but it was their mutual goal to register memories, experiences and sensations in bold and ambitious works of art that sustained their productive, even though at times tumultuous relationship.

Joan Mitchell and Jean Paul Riopelle: Creativity and Collaboration, a talk discussing the exhibition, will take place on Friday February 16, 2018. Speakers include AGO curator Kenneth Brummel; Professor Emeritus of York University and author of Egregore: A History of the Montreal Automatist Movement Ray Ellenwood; Director of Archives and Research of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Laura Morris; and independent art adviser, curator and writer David Moos.

Mitchell/Riopelle: Nothing in Moderation was developed by the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec and organized in partnership with the Art Gallery of Ontario, with the support of the Joan Mitchell Foundation, Yseult Riopelle and Sylvie Riopelle.

Mitchell/Riopelle: Nothing in Moderation runs from February 18 to May 6, 2018. The exhibition will take place in the AGO’s expansive Sam and Ayala Zacks Pavilion, and is included in general admission. 

Follow #MitchellRiopelleAGO for updates.

Lead Supporter:

Terra Foundation for American Art

Supporting Sponsors:             

Power Corporation of Canada
Heffel Fine Art Auction House 

Generously supported by:

David G. Broadhurst
The Dorothy Strelsin Foundation

Supported by the Government of Canada/ Avec l’appui du gouvernement du Canada           

Contemporary programming  at the Art Gallery of Ontario is supported by :

Canada Council for the Arts

Organizing Partner:

Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec



Located in Toronto, Canada’s largest city of 6.5 million, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) is one of the largest art museums in North America. The AGO’s collection of close to 95,000 works ranges from cutting-edge contemporary art such as Untilled by Pierre Huyghe to European masterpieces such as Peter Paul Rubens’s The Massacre of The Innocents; from the vast collection by the Group of Seven to works by established and emerging Indigenous Canadian artists; with a photography collection that tracks the impact of the medium with deep holdings of works by artists such as Garry Winogrand and Diane Arbus; and with focused collections in Gothic boxwood miniatures and Western and Central African art. Drawing on this collection—as well as collaborations with museums around the world—the AGO presents wide-ranging exhibitions and programs, taking special care to showcase diverse and underrepresented artists. A major expansion designed by Frank Gehry in 2008 with lead support from the family of Ken Thomson makes the AGO a highly-photographed architectural landmark. Visit and follow @AGOToronto to learn more.

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