Joan Mitchell

1925–1992

Joan Mitchell, ‘Chord II’ 1986
Chord II 1986
© Estate of Joan Mitchell
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Biography

Joan Mitchell (February 12, 1925 – October 30, 1992) was an American artist who worked primarily in painting and printmaking, and also used pastel and made other works on paper. She was an active participant in the New York School of artists in the 1950s. A native of Chicago, she is associated with the American abstract expressionist movement, even though she lived in France for much of her career.

Mitchell's emotionally intense style and its gestural brushwork were influenced by nineteenth-century post-impressionist painters, particularly Henri Matisse. Memories of landscapes inspired her compositions; she famously told art critic Irving Sandler, "I carry my landscapes around with me." Her later work was informed and constrained by her declining health.

Mitchell was one of her era's few female painters to gain critical and public acclaim. Her paintings, drawings, and editioned prints can be seen in major museums and collections around the world, and have sold for record-breaking prices. In 2021, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Baltimore Museum of Art co-organized a comprehensive retrospective of her work.

In her will, Mitchell provided for the creation of the Joan Mitchell Foundation, a non-profit corporation that awards grants and fellowships to working artists and maintains her archives.

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