Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) have announced a major retrospective of the work of Joan Mitchell for 2020. The show will also travel to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.
Curated by BMA’s Katy Siegel and SFMOMA’s Sarah Roberts, the exhibition will trace the artist’s career from its New York beginnings to later large-scale abstract works made in France, where Mitchell lived from 1959 until her death in 1992. Some of the artist’s most famous canvases will be on view next to rarely seen paintings, works on paper, and materials including archival photographs and sketchbooks. ARTnews reports that the forthcoming exhibition, which is slated to open at BMA in April 2020 before traveling to SFMOMA that September and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York in early 2021, will be twice as large as the Whitney Museum of American Art’s retrospective in 2002, which presented some sixty works.
Joan Mitchell established a singular visual vocabulary over the course of her more than four-decade career. While rooted in the conventions of abstraction, Mitchell’s inventive reinterpretation of the traditional figure-ground relationship and synesthetic use of color set her apart from her peers. The artist’s intuitively constructed and emotionally charged compositions alternately conjure individuals, observations, places, and points in time. As New Museum of Contemporary Art founder Marcia Tucker observed in Marion Cajori’s 1993 documentary Joan Mitchell: Portrait of an Abstract Painter, Mitchell "was one of the first women to provide—as an artist, as a painter—a role model, through the fact that she had sustained herself in this brilliant way. She made it possible for other people to do that, too—men and women who wanted to paint against the grain."
Siegel emphasizes the forthcoming retrospective as an opportunity to revisit and reassess the artist’s oeuvre. "Joan Mitchell was working at an enormously high level for four decades, and people didn’t quite get it because she was a woman. I think people are ready to recognize her greatness," the curator told Artnet; "With the pastels, the works on paper, the collaborations with poets, the small paintings that have almost never been shown, the transitional paintings between the huge masterworks that people are more familiar with, people are going to be amazed by the show and what it means to see Joan Mitchell in the fullness of her dimensions."
Cover image: Joan Mitchell, Ici, 1992 (detail). Collection Saint Louis Art Museum. Funds given by the Shoenberg Foundation, Inc. © Estate of Joan Mitchell.
(New York, London, & Hong Kong – May 2, 2018) David Zwirner is pleased to announce its exclusive worldwide representation of the Joan Mitchell Foundation, which is committed to enhancing recognition of the work and life of acclaimed abstract painter Joan Mitchell. The gallery is planning a solo exhibition of Mitchell’s work for 2019 in New York.
Joan Mitchell (1925–1992) established a singular visual vocabulary over the course of her more than four decade career. While rooted in the conventions of abstraction, Mitchell’s inventive reinterpretation of the traditional figure-ground relationship and synesthetic use of color set her apart from her peers, resulting in intuitively constructed and emotionally charged compositions that alternately conjure individuals, observations, places, and points in time. Her prodigious oeuvre encompasses not only the large-scale abstract canvases for which she is best known, but also smaller paintings, drawings, and prints.
David Zwirner will be the Joan Mitchell Foundation’s exclusive commercial gallery. In this role, David Zwirner will promote the legacy of the artist through curated exhibitions at its New York, London, and Hong Kong gallery spaces; the development of new scholarship on the artist’s work through publications and international exhibitions; and the sale of artworks consigned to the gallery by the Foundation.
As stated by David Zwirner: “The gallery is proud to be entrusted to help with the extraordinary legacy of Joan Mitchell, one of the most important and original American painters to emerge in the second half of the twentieth century. Mitchell forged her own unique path, in life and in art, and her groundbreaking work remains unparalleled and relevant today. We especially look forward to partnering with the remarkable Joan Mitchell Foundation. It is serendipitous that, as our gallery celebrates its milestone twenty-fifth anniversary, so does the Foundation, and we are thrilled to be able to enter this exciting next chapter together.”
“Sustaining Joan Mitchell's legacy and fulfilling her vision to support and amplify the work of other artists are cornerstones of the Foundation's mission," said Christa Blatchford, Chief Executive Officer of the Joan Mitchell Foundation. “As we enter our twenty-fifth year, we look forward to partnering with David Zwirner to further engage audiences around the globe with Mitchell’s pioneering work, expanding awareness and scholarship of her inspiring practice.”
Born in Chicago and educated at the Art Institute of Chicago, from which she received a BFA (1947) and an MFA (1950), Mitchell moved in 1949 to New York, where she was an active participant in the downtown arts scene. She began splitting her time between Paris and New York in 1955, before moving permanently to France in 1959. In 1968, Mitchell settled in Vétheuil, a small village northwest of Paris, while continuing to exhibit her work throughout the United States and Europe. It was in Vétheuil that she began regularly hosting artists at various stages of their careers, providing space and support to develop their art. When Mitchell passed away in 1992, her will specified that a portion of her estate should be used to establish a foundation to directly support visual artists.
In 1951, Mitchell became one of the few female members of the exclusive Eighth Street Club, and, that spring, her work was included in The Ninth Street Exhibition, organized by charter members of The Club with the assistance of Leo Castelli, which helped to codify what became known as the New York School of primarily abstract painters. During her lifetime, Mitchell’s work was exhibited in solo presentations at numerous influential galleries in the United States and Europe, including Stable Gallery, New York (1953, 1955, 1957, 1958, 1961, 1965); Dwan Gallery, Los Angeles (1961); Galerie Jean Fournier, Paris (1967, 1969, 1971, 1976, 1978, 1980, 1984, 1987, 1990, 1992); Martha Jackson Gallery, New York (1968, 1972); Xavier Fourcade, Inc., New York (1976, 1977, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1986); and Robert Miller Gallery, New York (1989, 1991).
Her first institutional solo exhibition, My Five Years in the Country, was held in 1972 at the Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York. Subsequent museum presentations during Mitchell’s lifetime were held at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1974, 1992); Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (1982); Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York (traveled to Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; and La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, California; 1988–1989).
In 2002, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, organized a posthumous retrospective of Mitchell’s work, which traveled to Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas; and Des Moines Art Center, Iowa. In 2010, the Joan Mitchell Foundation organized Joan Mitchell in New Orleans, which included a symposium on her life and work, and three concurrent exhibitions at Tulane University’s Newcomb Art Gallery, New Orleans Museum of Art, and the Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans. In 2015, Joan Mitchell Retrospective: Her Life and Paintings was presented at Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria, and subsequently traveled to Museum Ludwig, Cologne.
Additional recent museum solo presentations include those at Kunsthalle Emden, Germany (2008; traveled to Palazzo Magnani, Reggio Emilia, Italy and Musée des Impressionnismes, Giverny, France, both 2009); and Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh (2010).
Mitchell / Riopelle: Nothing in Moderation is currently on view at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, through May 6, 2018. A room of Mitchell’s work is also included in The Long Run at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, through November 4, 2018. Mitchell will also be featured in Mary Gabriel’s forthcoming book Ninth Street Women: Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and Helen Frankenthaler: Five Painters and the Movement That Changed Modern Art, slated for release on September 25, 2018 by Little, Brown and Company.
Mitchell’s work can be found in prominent institutional collections worldwide, including Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Anderson Collection at Stanford University, California; Art Institute of Chicago; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, Paris; Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris; Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC; Osaka City Museum of Modern Art, Japan; RISD Museum, Providence, Rhode Island; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art, Shizuoka, Japan; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Tate, London; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
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Image: Joan Mitchell, Posted, 1977