Joan Mitchell United States, 1925-1992


Joan Mitchell (b. 1925, Chicago, Illinois; d. 1992, Paris; France) was one of the foremost painters of the Abstract Expressionist movement. Her painting is largely inspired by poetry—an interest the artist developed from her mother, a practicing poet, and her dear friend Frank O’Hara. Mitchell was stimulated by animals, landscapes, and the beauty of re-captured memories. Her abstract style aimed to mirror the emotions of visual subjects rather than seek exactitude. Upon her graduation from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1947, Mitchell traveled to France through an awarded fellowship. She spent the decade working between New York and Paris, establishing herself as a key player in the New York School. The artist quickly gained notoriety for her highly expressive, gestural approach to painting. In 1951, Mitchell participated in the landmark 9th Street Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture at Leo Castelli in New York alongside pioneering American women artists Lee Krasner, Helen Frankenthaler, Grace Hartigan, and Elaine de Kooning. With a studio in Greenwich Village, Mitchell befriended several iconic artists of the vibrant downtown New York art scene of the 1950s, including Franz Kline and Willem de Kooning (with whom Mitchell frequented the legendary artist hub, the Cedar Bar). In 1955, Mitchell met the artist Jean-Paul Riopelle and the two soon began a decades-long romance. Their shared love of gestural abstraction led them to greatly inspire each other’s painting practices. Her brightly colored, calligraphic, and wildly energetic compositions intimately reflect the artist’s often tumultuous and complicated personality; many of her works appear both lyrical and full of passion at once, a signature of her masterworks. Mitchell’s work is held in major institutional collections around the world including The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris and Tate, London.