Born in Chicago in 1925, Joan Mitchell established herself as a formidable talent in postwar New York’s avant-garde scene. In 1951, her work was exhibited alongside that of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Hans Hoffman in the celebrated “Ninth Street Show,” which marked the ascendancy of Abstract Expressionism within the development of modern art. Exemplifying the ideals of the New York School, Mitchell’s paintings wager all on the expressive potential of the painterly mark itself, freed from the constraints of traditional representation. Given the macho posturing for which the movement’s adherents have earned a reputation – almost all of them were men – Joan Mitchell’s prowess in this milieu is all the more remarkable. Mitchell was connected to her generation’s response to and redirection of gestural abstraction. Sparked by elements and colors found in her surroundings—the circuitous line of the river, the specific blue hue of the sky—Mitchell’s works are charged with a concentrated reaction to her natural and emotional environment; they provide intimate evidence of a hand and mind in motion. Critic John Yau has written, “It is her singular achievement to have stripped her process down to the simplest means…in order to make her work allude to something far larger than landscape, and that is the exigencies of life itself.”
Joan Mitchell has since been the subject of numerous museum exhibitions, and examples of her work hang in nearly all major public collections of modern art including: Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Osaka City Art Museum of Modern Art, Japan; Samsung Museum, Seoul and The Tate Gallery, London.