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Joan Mitchell: Retrospective
Her Life and Paintings
Edited with text by Yilmaz Dziewior. Text by Ken Okiishi, Laura Morris, Isabelle Graw, Jutta Koether, Yves Michaud.
Lots of painters are obsessed with inventing something, American painter Joan Mitchell (1925–92) said in 1986. "When I was young, it never occurred to me to invent. All I wanted to do was paint." Throughout her life Mitchell remained committed to totally autonomous abstract painting, always driven by this fundamental love for the craft and technique of painting. In a career spanning more than four decades, Mitchell's painting style married the dynamic gesture of the Abstract Expressionists, her generational peers, to a keen sensitivity to natural phenomena such as light and water. Characterized by an intense color palette and fresh gestural energy, often applied on a very large scale, Mitchell’s paintings both sensually seduce and intellectually stimulate viewers.
Published to accompany a large-scale survey of Mitchell's painting, Joan Mitchell: Retrospective draws from Mitchell's entire oeuvre, from her early work of the 1950s to her late, multipart works painted in her last years. Both catalogue and exhibition insist on the importance of biography to any retrospective account of Mitchell’s work, and a large part of the exhibition is dedicated to the first extensive public presentation of archival materials from the Joan Mitchell Foundation. Photographs, correspondence and ephemera from the archives are reproduced here, along with an illustrated timeline that relates Mitchell's life to her work.
Born in Chicago in 1925, Joan Mitchell studied at Smith College before training at The Art Institute of Chicago. After a fellowship in Paris, Mitchell lived in New York, where she became part of the community of Abstract Expressionist painters. She spent increasing amounts of time in France, eventually moving to Paris in 1959, and remaining there until her death in 1992.
"Cercando un Ago," 1957, is reproduced from Joan Mitchell: Retrospective.
PRAISE AND REVIEWS
[With] extremely nuanced paintings... Joan Mitchell: Retrospective culls together correspondence, vintage photos and ephemera that succinctly correlate to the artist’s process and personal life.
FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG
CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 3/15/2016
"When I was sick, they moved me to a room with a window and suddenly through the window I saw two fir trees in a park, and the grey sky, and the beautiful grey rain, and I was so happy. It had something to do with being alive. I could see the pine trees, and I felt I could paint. If I could see them, I felt it would paint a painting. Last year, I could not paint. For a while I did not react to anything. All I saw was a white metallic color." – Joan Mitchell, 1986, quoted in Retrospective. Featured image is "Un jardin pour Audrey" (1975). continue to blog