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Joan Mitchell was one of the leading figures of the younger generation of abstract expressionist painters. Her lifelong passion for light, colour and landscape is evident in this painting, made when she was still in her twenties. Using subtle variations in texture and colour, her paintings often present a delicate, shimmering surface across the whole canvas. The composition of Number 12 draws the viewer’s eye to an area of densely layered dark paint at the centre of the canvas.

July 2012