Viewing Room

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19/25

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Joan MITCHELL

Composition

1975
46 x 77 cm (18 ¹/₈ x 30 ¹/₄ inches)
Oil on canvas
Signed on the left stretcher: To Elga/merry/ Christmas/love from Joan Mitchell


Provenance:
Artist’s studio, Vétheuil
Private collection, Garches, acquired directly from the artist
 


“My paintings repeat a feeling about Lake Michigan, or water, or fields...it’s more like a poem...and that’s what I want to paint.”  Joan Mitchell


Born in Chicago in 1925, Joan Mitchell established herself as a talent in postwar New York’s avant-garde scene, and one of the most influential figures of Abstract Expressionism. 

Mitchell quickly became part of the circle of key artists like Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline. During these years, from late 1949 until she began living part of the year in Paris in 1955, Mitchell painted seriously and engaged fully with the spirited ideas circulating around downtown New York - and was a fully participating member of the then-unnamed New York School. 
In 1951, her work was exhibited alongside that of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Hans Hoffman in the celebrated “Ninth Street Show,” which marked the ascendancy of Abstract Expressionism within the development of modern art. Exemplifying the ideals of the New York School, Mitchell’s paintings wager all on the expressive potential of the painterly mark itself, freed from the constraints of traditional representation. 

In the 1970s, Mitchell was living in Vétheuil, near Paris, in a house surrounded by nature. She was creating paintings evoking elements and colors found in her surroundings– the circuitous line of the river, the specific blue hue of the sky, and particularly the large, wide-canopied Linden overlooking the river at her home in Vétheuil. These paintings are mirroring the elements, and, even more, the sensation of space and vision that one experiences in reaction to them. 

Mitchell’s process is informed by a range of emotional states, points in time, and positions in landscape, and her work is an affirmation that people experience landscapes, emotions and memories in a complex, interconnected way. This is evident in the tension and balance between figure and ground, between paint and surface, and between one or more colors.
Her works are charged with a concentrated reaction to her natural and emotional environment; they provide intimate evidence of a hand and mind in motion. This kind of subjective, psychological relationship to a visual and spacial context is central to Joan Mitchell's work. [1]

Our work, dated from ca. 1975, is typical of these years and a great example of Michell’s work.
“It is her singular achievement to have stripped her process down to the simplest means…in order to make her work allude to something far larger than landscape, and that is the exigencies of life itself.”
John Yau, American art critic, poet and academic


Joan Mitchell has since been the subject of numerous museum exhibitions, and examples of her work hang in nearly all major public collections of modern art including: Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Osaka City Art Museum of Modern Art, Japan; Samsung Museum, Seoul and The Tate Gallery, London. 


[1]Joan Mitchell Foundation website https://joanmitchellfoundation.org/work/artwork/cat/works-on-paper