Mitchell, Joan

Mitchell, Joan,

1926–92, American abstract painter, b. Chicago, studied Smith College, Art Institute of Chicago (B.F.A., 1947; M.F.A., 1950). A vibrant colorist, she was one of the finest painters of the second generation of abstract expressionismabstract expressionism,
movement of abstract painting that emerged in New York City during the mid-1940s and attained singular prominence in American art in the following decade; also called action painting and the New York school.
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. In Manhattan during the 1950s Mitchell encountered action painting, developing friendships with such artists as Willem de Kooningde Kooning, Willem
, 1904–97, American painter, b. Netherlands; studied Rotterdam Academy of Fine Arts and Techniques. De Kooning immigrated to the United States, arriving as a stowaway in 1926 and settling in New York City, where he worked on the Federal Arts Project
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 and Franz KlineKline, Franz,
1910–62, American painter, b. Wilkes-Barre, Pa. He studied (1937–38) in England, then settled in New York City. His first works were representational, often portraying the industrial landscapes of Pennsylvania's coal and steel towns.
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 and becoming part of a male-dominated art world. Her emotionally intense paintings of the 1950s feature slashing strokes of vivid color. From the next decade on she moved to equally intense canvases in which linear elements are joined by large gestural blocks, skeins, or cascades in lush colors. In 1959, Mitchell settled in France where, rejecting the movements that dominated art from the 1960s on, she continued to paint in an abstract expressionist style. Usually very large, sometimes in multipanel format, her often radiantly lyrical paintings incorporate both turbulence and control and are frequently inspired by landscapes and poetry.


See biography by P. Albers (2011); K. Kertess, Joan Mitchell (1997); J. Livingston et al., The Paintings of Joan Mitchell (2002).

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Mitchell, Joan

(1926–  ) painter; born in Chicago. Child of a physician father and a mother who was a poet and coeditor of Poetry magazine, she studied for two years at Smith College, then transferred to the Art Institute of Chicago to paint full time. Coming to New York City in 1947, she became one of the early abstract expressionists and gained considerable recognition. In 1959 she moved to Paris, then in 1967 to Vetheuil, a village about one hour northwest of Paris where Monet once lived (1878–81). She continued to paint in the abstract expressionist manner, although adopting a sunnier palette and more lyrical mode, and in her attempts to convey the realm of nature—as in No Birds (1987–88) or Wind (1990)—she seemed to echo French impressionism.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
References in periodicals archive ?
Second row includes Daisy Stamper, Betty Ramsden, Brenda Brook, Barbara Noble, Michael Bower, Billy Joyce, Tony Wincup, Eileen Mitchell, Joan Lodge, Eric Shaw and Jack Shaw.
(At Monterey she appeared with wings on her back.) A lot of this criticism reeks of the misogyny that also greeted Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, and other women who approached rock from a feminist perspective but not simply as imitations of men.