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Joan Mitchell

Work
Biography
Joan Mitchell (1926-1992) was a leading painter and printmaker within the second generation of the New York School. Born in Chicago, Mitchell studied at the Art Institute of Chicago before moving to New York in 1947, where she gained prominence a year later. She studied under Hans Hofmann during her years in New York. In 1959, she immigrated to France, residing in Claude Monet’s Vetheuil home, where she continued to live and work until her death in 1992.

Known for her strong gestural style, Mitchell was fundamental to the Abstract Expressionist period in the US, although she spent the better half of her career living abroad in France. She was influenced by nature and landscapes, and her emotion-laden abstractions are both highly expressive and often spontaneous.

In a career that spans over four decades, Mitchell produced relatively few prints. In the late 1950s, Mitchell made a series of screenprints with hand-painted overlay in a New York workshop. In 1972, her Parisian prints mark one of her earliest use of the sunflower motif, which would become a staple of her artistic process. From 1981 on, Mitchell collaborated with master printer Ken Tyler and created some of the largest and most celebrated series of landscape-based lithographs. Each work combines complexity, intensity, and fluidity of abstracted lines and marks to create compositions that have become synonymous with the visual language of Joan Mitchell’s work. The works, full of vigor, convey a sense of openness via the balanced relationship between the artist’s marks and the whiteness of the paper, which acts as a source of light.

The subject of numerous shows at major museums and galleries in Paris and New York throughout her career, Mitchell continues to be the focus of major exhibitions around the world to this day. The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is set to exhibit a major retrospective of Mitchell’s work, which will open in 2020 and will travel to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. Other solo exhibitions include a travelling retrospective in 2016 organized by the Kunsthaus Bregenz in Austria and traveled to the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, Germany. Her prints were further featured in 2010 in a three-part exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans. Another survey exhibition organized by the Kunsthalle Emden, Germany in 2008 travelled to Palazzo Magnani, Reggio Emilia in Italy and the Musée des Impressionnismes in Giverny, France. She was the subject of a defining retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2002, which was accompanied by a major monograph with contributions by Jane Livingston, Linda Nochlin, and Yvette Lee.

Mary Ryan Gallery held important exhibitions of Mitchell’s work in 2004 and 2011.

Mitchell has also been included in several major group exhibitions at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the latest of which was in 2018. She has also had several exhibitions with the Museum of Modern Art, the latest of which was in 2017. Other group exhibitions were held at the Walker Art Center (2019), Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice (2019), Nagoya City Art Museum, Japan (2018), Musée de l'Orangerie (2018), Seattle Art Museum (2018), Haus der Kunst in Munich (2016), Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2012) and the Kunstforum Wien (2008).

Mitchell’s work is in numerous prominent museum collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago, IL; Brooklyn Museum, NY; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain, Paris; Iwaki City Art Museum, Japan; J. Paul Getty Trust, Los Angeles, CA; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; Magasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall, SE; Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Museum of Fine Arts,
Boston, MA; Museum of Modern Art, NY; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC; Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice; Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art, RI; Samsung Museum, Seoul, KR; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY; Tate Gallery, London; Whitney Museum of American Art, NY.
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