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Joan Mitchell (American, 1926-1992)


Birth Place: Chicago (Cook county, Illinois, United States)

Large, sweeping brushstrokes and bright colors splashed across multi-paneled compositions are only a small description of Joan Mitchell’s artwork. As “second generation” abstraction expressionist painter, Mitchell strove to evoke depth of emotion through her poetry, landscape, and nature inspired works. Mitchell utilized color and gestural strokes as her means to this emotional depth rather than direct representation.

Growing up with a mother who was a poet meant that Mitchel was surrounded by painting, art, and poetry from an early age. Born in Chicago in 1925, she attended the Art Institute of Chicago, where she received her BFA in 1947 and later her MFA in 1950. Joan Mitchell moved to New York City in the fall of 1949 where eventually she was one of the few women who were invited to join the Artists’ Club. “The Club” was an exclusive club that had lectures, discussions, and an environment that nurtured abstract expressionist artists. In the club, she became friends with Franz Kline and Willem de Kooning, who influenced her later work.

Though considered an American Abstract Expressionist Painter, she moved to Paris permanently in 1959 and began a tumultuous but supportive relationship with Canadian French Artist Jean-Paul Riopelle. In 1967, after her mother died, she purchased a two-acre property that overlooked the Seine that became her home and studio in Vetheuil, France, just outside of Paris.

Joan Mitchell’s work has been awarded such prizes as the Premio Lissone (Lissone Prize), Milan in 1961, and in 1991 she received the Le Grand Prix des Arts. Her works of art are displayed in prestigious museums like Museum of Modern Art in New York City, New York, Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, and The Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois. Vibrant brushstrokes and the emotional impact of her artwork will be her legacy for the centuries to come.

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