His long blond hair earned him the nicknamed “casque d’or” (golden helmet). The BBC called him a “cult figure” in France. Jean-Pierre Rives played for France’s rugby team from 1975 to 1984 and was the first captain to lead the team to victory against the All Blacks in New Zealand on July 14, 1979. The flanker was the country’s first truly international rugby star.
Yet despite a record-breaking career in rugby, as a child Jean-Pierre had always been fascinated by colour and form and dreamt of the Beaux-Arts. Born in 1952, in Toulouse, perusing art was not an option for his generation, especially as his grandfather was a cyclist and his father favoured tennis.
When Jean-Pierre retired in 1987, after winning 59 caps for France (34 as captain) and two Grand Slams in 1977 and 1981, he gave away his game jersey and trophies because for him, what mattered most, were the people: “Rugby is the story of a ball with friends around and when there is no more ball, friends remain.”
The soft-spoken artist reflects, “Both rugby and art both are based on emotions.” (Watch Video).
The studios may have come knocking – he appeared in three films: Qui sont mes juges? (1987); Connemara (1990); and Druids in 2001 – but after discovering the work of sculptor Albert Féraud, Jean-Pierre fulfilled his calling.
As a renowned sculptor who has lived in Mendocino, California, and has a home in Grimaud, Jean-Pierre’s art has been shown around the world, in New York, Paris, Moscow, Dubai and Shanghai. In 2007, the “Rives sur Berges” outdoor exhibition installed eight of his sculptures along the Rhone River in Lyon during the Rugby World Cup.
Jean-Pierre’s “Abstraction Géométrique” exhibit opened on Monday, April 3, at the Prince’s Car Collection in Monaco. Jean-Pierre and director Valérie Closier welcomed Prince Albert at 6pm and accompanied him along the main floor where paintings and cars came together in the form of art, including a Formula 3000 and Rolls Royce Silver Shadow.
Valérie enthuses, “The work is very colourful, a touch of pop art in the collection, that ties into two customised cars covered with his work. It is the link between cars and art.” (Watch Video.)
This is the first art show at the modernised Prince’s Car Collection in the new La Condamine location and the energy is contagious. Invited guests included Gareth Wittstock, secretary general of the Princess Charlene Foundation. One of Jean-Pierre’s paintings will be auctioned in the Principality later this year with proceeds going to Princess Charlene’s Foundation, which among other activities supports the Monegasque Rugby Federation in organising the Saint Devote Rugby Tournament for youth. This year it takes place on Saturday, April 22, 2023.
Also present were Jean-Francois “Jeff” Tordo (former captain of the French national rugby team and founder of the humanitarian association, Pachaamama), Tiffaney Perlino (president of Monaco’s Women in Motor Sport Commission), Brigitte Boccone-Pagès (president of Monaco’s National Council), and Martine Ackermann, founder of Child CARE Monaco and the Monte-Carlo Women’s Vintage Car Rally, this year on September 10).
Valérie hopes to bring in several exhibits every year to create a “living space” that will keep people coming back. (Breaking News: Monaco Fashion Week will have its catwalk to the backdrop of the cars and art in May.)
This is the first time Jean-Pierre Rives, 70, is sharing his “Abstraction Géométrique” with the public. The exhibit runs until the end of May at the Prince’s Car Collection at 54 route de la piscine. Admission is €10 or €5 for under 18. Open daily 10 am to 7 pm.