Joan Mitchell

Joan Mitchell

A preeminent American Abstract Expressionist painter, Joan Mitchell developed a gestural vocabulary and a mastery of color that were singular among her peers. She took a synesthetic approach to landscapes and figures alike, conceiving each gesture to be a translation of a feeling stored in memory. She sought, in her words, “to paint what [nature] leaves me with.” Born in Chicago in 1925, Mitchell attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and spent a fellowship year in France before moving to New York in 1949. There, she joined the exclusive Eight Street Club and was included in the famous 9thStreet Show in 1951, which marked the ascendency of Abstract Expressionism. By the end of the ’50s, she was regularly exhibiting at Eleanor Ward’s Stable Gallery. In 1955, Mitchell began living part-time in Paris, and in 1968 she settled in the village of Vétheuil, northwest of Paris, where she worked continuously until her death in 1992. For the duration of her five-decade career, her commitment to gestural abstraction was unwavering.

Mitchell’s first institutional solo exhibition was held in 1972 at the Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York. Subsequent museum presentations during her lifetime were held at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1974, 1992); Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (1982); Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York (traveled to Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; and La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, California; 1988–1989). In 2002, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, organized a retrospective of Mitchell’s work, which traveled to Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas; and Des Moines Art Center, Iowa. In 2015, Joan Mitchell Retrospective: Her Life and Paintings was presented at Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria, and subsequently traveled to Museum Ludwig, Cologne.



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