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Joan Mitchell

American, 1925-1992


Curating Works


Joan Mitchell was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1925. Mitchell first studied art and English at Smith College in Massachusetts before transferring in 1944 to the Art Institute of Chicago where she pursued painting. Upon her graduation from the Institute, she received a James Nelson Raymond Foreign Traveling Fellowship, allowing her to spend a year in France. During this trip abroad, her style became decidedly more abstract, and once she returned to New York, she was included in the seminal 9th Street Show in 1951 alongside other Abstract Expressionist painters such as Jackson Pollock and Robert Rauschenberg. In 1952, Mitchell had her first solo exhibition at the New Gallery, which was critically praised and led to a yearly exhibition at the Stable Gallery. Even after returning to New York from her year abroad, Mitchell continued to return to France regularly. In 1955, she relocated to France permanently. Despite being away from the New York art world, Mitchell continued to paint prolifically for the next several decades until her death. Her style is unique and powerful; Mitchell stayed true to Abstract Expressionism. Joan Mitchell was part of the second generation of Abstract Expressionist painters and one of the rare female artists of her time to garner equal acclaim to her male contemporaries. Her work is included in nearly every major modern art collection, MoMA, Guggenheim, Tate Modern, Centre Georges Pompidou, Smithsonian, Whitney, Metropolitan, and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.