Saturday, October 30, 2010

portrait of the artist: joan mitchell

Continuing on the theme of Abstract Impressionist artists for this little feature, Joan Mitchell is especially inspirational for me--because she's a woman. It's always surprising to me that there aren't more historically brilliant female artists. It seems that the majority of the "great" painters from the past are men, when women clearly have the dramatic temperament and the creative touch. I just think that's interesting. I'd love to hear who your favorite female painters are--past and present! I'm just teaching myself about these things :) Mitchell's paintings were often loose interpretations of landscape in brilliant colors. She said she wanted her paintings "to convey the feeling of the dying sunflower."

This is one of my favorites, but I can't figure out what it is called--any tips?

(City Landscape, 1956)

(Untitled, 1958)

(Ohne Titel/Untitled, 1959)

(Le Chemin des Escoliers, 1960)

(Untitled, 1960)

(Untitled, 1962)

(Calvi, 1964)

(Untitled, 1969)

(La Ligne de la Rupture, 1970)

(Sunflower, 1972)

(Barge Peniche, 1975)

(Untitled, 1977)

(Cypress, 1980)

(Hans, 1981)

(Buckwheat, 1982)

(Chord VI, 1987)

(Chord VII, 1987)

(Sunflowers, 1990-1)

(Untitled, 1990)

(Champs, 1990)

(Yves, 1991)

(Ici, 1992)

I really just like the fun in these paintings--despite their absolute abstraction, there is still something natural and botanical about them. She somehow captured the life and the essence of flora in a beautiful, new way. And, because everyone loves a love story, here is a letter she wrote to the artist Michael Goldberg during his six-month stint at the NY State Hospital, where he went "in lieu of serving prison time for writing bad checks on her husband's account." (Washington Post):


Hey beautiful,
Just got your letter . . . -- God you mean a lot to me -- it's never been like this before in my life. I cleaned the studio -- made the bed . . . -- I'm using the paint off your palette -- I feel so close to you . . . -- I'm drinking the beer you left on the windowsill -- & I'm kissing you -- this I do all the time...


  1. I didn't know this artist before, but I just love the nameless blue piece! And the letter. I must be overly romantic these days, but I'd quite like a letter like that myself.

    And oh yes, two books so far. The second by far better than the first. But none published as of yet. That will be the next project. ; )

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    Portrait Artists