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JOAN MITCHELL ( 1926 - 1992 )



Subcategory: Prints & Multiples
Medium: Aquatint
Technique: Etching
Place of origin: United States
Date: 1972
Period: Mid 20th Century
Movement & Style: Abstract Expressionism
Height: 49,5 cm
Width: 59,4 cm
Condition: Very good

Article no: 119

The story

Signed lower right in pencil.

Edition size: 75 (10/75).

Printed by Arte Adrien Maeght, Paris.

Published by Maeght Editeur, Paris.

Joan Mitchell was born in Chicago in 1925. After graduating from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1947, she was awarded a James Nelson Raymond Foreign Traveling Fellowship, which took her to France for a year in 1948-49, and it was there that her paintings moved toward abstraction. Returning to New York, she participated in the famous “9th Street Show” in 1951, and soon established a reputation as one of the leading younger American Abstract Expressionist painters. She exhibited regularly in New York throughout the next four decades and maintained close friendships with many New York School painters and poets.

In 1955 she began dividing her time between New York and France, and in 1968 she settled in Vétheuil, a small town in the countryside outside of Paris, where she worked continuously until her death in 1992. During the almost 50 years of her painting life, as Abstract Expressionism was eclipsed by successive styles, Mitchell’s commitment to the tenets of gestural abstraction remained firm and uncompromising. Summing up her achievement, Klaus Kertess wrote, “She transformed the gestural painterliness of Abstract Expressionism into a vocabulary so completely her own that it could become ours as well. And her total absorption of the lessons of Matisse and van Gogh led to a mastery of color inseparable from the movement of light and paint. Her ability to reflect the flow of her consciousness in that of nature, and in paint, is all but unparalleled.”

In the late 1950s, Mitchell was encouraged by Floriano Vecchi, the owner of Tiber Press in New York, to make prints with his workshop. In 1959-60, Mitchell made a series of screenprints with hand-painted overlay at Tiber, some of which were reproduced in the limited edition artist book, The Poems, to accompany poems by her contemporary and friend John Ashbery. The Poems was one of four books made in a set by Tiber; each paired the work of a New York School poet with the prints of an abstract expressionist painter.

In 1972 Mitchell returned to printmaking, this time to make etchings with Arte Adrian Maeght, Paris. These prints demonstrate one of the earliest uses of a favorite leitmotif, sunflowers, which grew in Mitchell’s gardens at Vétheuil where she had settled a few years prior. These etchings, in burnt and bleached tones of sun and sky, reflect the life cycle of the sunflower. Particulate marks come together like matter coalescing to form a flower and hold together in the looseness of its subsequent disintegration. Sunflower-like forms emerge and dissipate in a riotous, scratchy landscape of growth. The autumnal tones of the Sunflower series point to Mitchell’s identification with the feeling of the dying sunflower.

Source: The Joan Mitchell Foundation, USA

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