An American Abstract Expressionist


Noon - 1969

On a recent visit to a local library to peruse some art books I came across the artist Joan Mitchell. The bold color and sweeping strokes on the cover quickly caught my attention. Without too much reading I felt the expressive, energetic quality within each piece. The colors had a clarity about them and a lyrical movement in relationship with each other.

Sunflowers - 1990-1991

Ms. Mitchell was born in Chicago in 1926 and she has a long history of success since childhood. She became a championship figure skater, and competitive athlete skilled in tennis and other things. Clearly a young woman of discipline! Although, in reading it sounds like her father was quite a force behind all that. I read that art became a way out for Joan as she felt it was an area in which her father could not compete. Ms. Mitchell pursued art earning both a BFA and MFA at the Art Institute of Chicago. She made many connections there, later moved to France where she would reside until her death in 1992. Death was a topic Mitchell contemplated often and is quoted as saying:

Minnesota - 1980

"Painting is the opposite of death, it permits one to survive, it also permits one to live." She was afraid of death - maybe like many of us as it's a connection to the great unknown. But this fear got channeled into her vibrant and very expressive paintings taking Ms. Mitchell into the realm of being one of the few female artists to gain recognition as an American Abstract Expressionist.

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