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Art Gallery

joan mitchell

American Abstract Painter (Second Generation)

Born: February 12, 1925 - Chicago, Illinois
Died: October 30, 1992 - Vetheuil, France

My paintings aren’t about art issues. They’re about a feeling that comes to me from the outside, from landscapes,.....Paintings aren’t about the person who makes them, either. My paintings have to do with feelings.
— Joan Mitchell, 1974

Joan Mitchell is known for the compositional rhythms, bold coloration, and sweeping gestural brushstrokes of her large and often multi-paneled paintings. Inspired by landscape, nature, and poetry, her intent was not to create a recognizable image, but to convey emotions. She paints with lyrical, calligraphic brush strokes and looping slashes of color----an assertive use of line creating rhythms and movement.  Her paintings are poetic evocation of nature. 

Joan Mitchell worked primarily at night and rarely if ever painted from life. In order to prepare herself for painting, she might read poetry or listen to music. She worked in solitude, except for the company of her dogs. Her paintings were built slowly and carefully; she would stand back and look at a blank canvas or painting in progress for long periods of time, decide where each mark should go, then approach the work to place paint quickly and confidently. The arc of her arm can be seen in the brushstrokes in many of her paintings, especially at the top where she was extending her reach. Indeed, her approach to painting was both physically and mentally rigorous. An accomplished athlete throughout her childhood, Mitchell had a great deal of experience with discipline, practice, balance, and a relaxed and fluid faculty of control. These principles of physical action, combined with careful, precise visual observation of her environment, underscore her life-long approach to painting.

Mitchell's early success in the 1950s was striking at a time when few women artists were recognized, and she continued to create abstract paintings until her death in 1992.

 Untitled (1951).  Oil on canvas.  72 x 78 inches. Courtesy of the Joan Mitchell Foundation One of the seminal works in Joan Mitchell's first solo show at The New Gallery, New York.  Cubist in its precise articulation of spatial intervals, yet close in spirit to Abstract Expressionism. .

Untitled (1951).  Oil on canvas.  72 x 78 inches. Courtesy of the Joan Mitchell Foundation
One of the seminal works in Joan Mitchell's first solo show at The New Gallery, New York.  Cubist in its precise articulation of spatial intervals, yet close in spirit to Abstract Expressionism. .

Joan grew up in Chicago.  Her father was a doctor and her mother a poet, writer, and editor.  When little, her father took her to the Art Institute of Chicago and other museums.  Her love of art grew at an early age and later she attended the Art Institute of Chicago where she was greatly influenced by Wassily Kandinsky, Henri Matisse and Paul Cezanne----impressionists, post-impressionists, cubism.  After graduation in 1947 she moved to New York where she saw works by Arshile Gorky, and Jackson Pollack.  Then after a year she moved to Paris where she painted abstract cityscapes in a cubistic style.  And, as she painted, her images became progressively more abstract.  Returning to New York City in 1949, Joan immersed herself in the Abstract Expressionist art scene, becoming friends with Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline among others.  Mitchell later participated in the famous “Ninth Street Show” (1951), and established a reputation as one of the leading younger American Abstract Expressionist painters. She was asked to join the exclusive “Artist Club” in Greenwich Village which included very few women.  She had her first solo show in 1952 at the New Gallery, NYC,  and her acclaim led to many yearly shows and becoming part of the stable of artists at New Gallery.

In 1959 she split her time between NY and France and where she made new artist friends including Jean-Paul Riopelle, a successful French Canadian artist, whom she lived with until 1979.  After her mother died in 1967 she bought a large home and studio in Vetheuil overlooking the Seine and moved permanently to France.  This move reflected a renewed focus on nature and landscape in her artwork. Her style of painting changed in the larger studio. She began to create large multi-paneled paintings of two, three, or four panels. In 1967, she also began her professional relationship with the Gallerie Jean Fournier in Paris, which would provide significant continued support of her work.

 City Landscape (1955).  Oil on canvas.  80 x 80 inches.  Courtesy of the Joan Mitchell Foundation.

City Landscape (1955).  Oil on canvas.  80 x 80 inches. 
Courtesy of the Joan Mitchell Foundation.

 Hemlock 1956. Oil on canvas.  91 x 80 inches.  Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Hemlock 1956. Oil on canvas.  91 x 80 inches. 
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

In 1972, Joan Mitchell had her first solo museum exhibition at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, New York. A major exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art followed in 1974. Her paintings became more linear with vibrant brushstrokes of color reaching the edges of the canvas. These late paintings sealed her reputation as an inventive artist and a master of painting technique.

Joan Mitchell continues to inspire as an artist true to her inner vision, who created a large and impressive body of Abstract Expressionist work. Recognized by the age of 30, her paintings steadily matured and became ever more striking and profound. The Joan Mitchell Foundation, established in 1993, continues to celebrate her legacy by providing grants and other support for painters and sculptures working today.


Images in Slide Show:
1.  Joan Mitchell Studio
1957. 'One of America's most brilliant Action-Painters." Critic Irving Sandler
TIME LIFE PICTURES/GETTY IMAGES
2.  Untitled, 1954
Oil on canvas, 36 x 28 1/2 inches, Private collection, © Estate of Joan Mitchell
3.  Untitled, 1963
Oil on canvas, 36 x 28 1/2 inches, Private collection, © Estate of Joan Mitchell
4.  Untitled, 1963
Oil on canvas, 36 x 28 1/2 inches, Private collection, © Estate of Joan Mitchell
5.  Untitled, 1964
Oil on canvas, 36 x 28 1/2 inches, Private collection, 
© Estate of Joan Mitchell
6.  
Girolata, 1964
Oil on canvas, 101 3/4 x 189 inches, Smithsonian Institution,  © Estate of Joan Mitchell
7. My Landscape II, 1967
Oil on canvas, 103 x 71 1/2 inches, Smithsonian American Art Museum,  © Estate of Joan Mitchell
8.  Heel, Sit, Stay, 1977  
Oil on canvas (diptych) each panel: 110 x 63 inches, © Estate of Joan Mitchell
9.  Untitled, 1979
Oil on canvas (triptych), 76 3/4 x 153 1/2 inches,  Private Collection,   © Estate of Joan Mitchell.
10. Two pianos, 1980
Oil on canvas (diptych),
 110 x 142 in,  © Estate of Joan Mitchell
11. La Grande Vallee O, 1983
Oil on canvas, 102 x 78 3/4 in, Private Collection  
L
12.  La Grande Vallee XX, 1983-1984
 
Oil on canvas, 110 1/4  x 78 3/4 in, Collection of Jean Fournier
13.  La Grande Vallee XVI, Pour Iva, 1983
Oil on canvas 20 1/4 x 78 5/8 inches, Collection of the Joan Mitchell Foundation © Estate of Joan Mitchell
14.  Ici, 1992
Oil on canvas, left panel: 102 x 78 x 3/4 in, right panel: 102 3/8 x 78 7/8 in. Saint Louis Art Museum, 

© Estate of Joan Mitchell
15.  River, 1989
Oil on canvas (diptych), 110 x 157 1/2 in

16.  Untitled, 1987
Oil on Canvas (diptych), 102 3/8 x 157 1/2 in, Private Collection, 
© Estate of Joan Mitchell


 Salut Tom, 1979,  Oil on Canvas 4 panels, 110 7/16 x 316 in., National Gallery of Art, Corcoran Collection, copyright Estate of Joan Mitchell

Salut Tom, 1979,  Oil on Canvas 4 panels, 110 7/16 x 316 in., National Gallery of Art, Corcoran Collection, copyright Estate of Joan Mitchell


 

 

 

 

 

 

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