Who ART You? 19

I’ve really been enjoying learning about all these artists I’ve been posting about, some who are no longer with us, such as Joan Mitchell, but have left an indelible mark on the art world.


Joan Mitchell

Who ART You?

No Birds 1987/88

No Birds 1987/88

From Wikipedia:
Born 1925-1992 Joan Mitchell was born in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of dermatologist James Herbert Mitchell and poet Marion Strobel Mitchell.  She enjoyed diving and skating growing up, and her art would later reflect this athleticism; one gallery owner commented that Mitchell "approached painting almost like a competitive sport"

Mitchell studied at Smith College in Massachusetts and The Art Institute of Chicago,[5] where she earned her BFA in 1947 and her MFA in 1950.  After moving to Manhattan in 1947, she wanted to study at Hans Hofmann's school in New York but, according to Jane Livingston in her 2002 essay ("The Paintings of Joan Mitchell"), Mitchell attended only one class and declared, "I couldn't understand a word he said so I left, terrified." A $2,000 travel fellowship allowed her to study in Paris and Provence in 1948—49, and she also traveled in Spain and Italy.

In her early years as a painter, she was influenced by Paul CézanneWassily KandinskyClaude MonetVincent van Gogh, and later by the work of Franz Kline and Willem de KooningJean-Paul Riopelle, among others.

Her paintings are expansive, often covering multiple panels. Landscape was the primary influence on her subject matter. She painted on unprimed canvas or white ground with gestural, sometimes violent brushwork. She has described a painting as "an organism that turns in space".

An admirer of van Gogh's work, Mitchell observed in one of his final paintings – Wheatfield with Crows(1890) – the symbology of death, suicide, hopelessness, depression and darkness. With her sense that Wheatfield with Crows was a suicide note, she painted a painting called No Birds as a response and as an homage.

After moving to Paris in 1959, Mitchell began painting in a studio on the rue Fremicourt. During the period between 1960 and 1964, she moved away from the all-over style and bright colors of her earlier compositions, instead using sombre hues and dense central masses of color to express something inchoate and primordial. The marks on these works were said to be extraordinary: "The paint flung and squeezed on to the canvases, spilling and spluttering across their surfaces and smeared on with the artist's fingers." The artist herself referred to the work created in this period of the early 1960s as "very violent and angry," but by 1964 she was "trying to get out of a violent phase and into something else." 

Mitchell said that she wanted her paintings "to convey the feeling of the dying sunflower" and "some of them come out like young girls, very coy ... they're very human."

Already during her lifetime, Mitchell was rewarded with a considerable degree of commercial success. Between 1960 and 1962, Mitchell earned over $30,000 in art sales, a considerable figure for a woman painter at that time.  Works by Mitchell fetched $239.8 million in sales from 1985 through 2013, according to figures compiled by Bloomberg. In June 2018, nine of Mitchell's paintings were expected to sell for more than $70 million at the world's largest modern art fair Art Basel.

Untitled (1960)  sold at auction for $11.9 million in 2014, a record for a female artist.

Untitled (1960) sold at auction for $11.9 million in 2014, a record for a female artist.

Mitchell married American publisher Barney Rosset in 1949 in Paris. Rosset was a Chicago-born American entrepreneur who became, at Mitchell's urging, the owner of the publishing house Grove Press, perhaps best known as the American publisher of the novel Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller. They divorced in 1952. Although she remained active in the burgeoning art scene of 1950s New York, Mitchell spent increasing amounts of time travelling and working in France. In 1955, Mitchell moved to France to join Canadian painter Jean-Paul Riopelle, with whom she had a long, rich, and tumultuous relationship (from 1955 to 1979). They maintained separate homes and studios, but had dinner and drank together daily.

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