Mitchell spent the summer of 1989 preparing for a solo presentation with Robert Miller Gallery that fall. This was to be her first exhibition in New York since 1986, and the artist created more than twenty works. In contrast to the meditative and sometimes-spare compositions of the mid-1980s, these new paintings were exuberant, all-over compositions, reflecting the artist’s renewed determination and commitment to her studio practice.
Spread from Joan Mitchell: Paintings, published by Robert Miller Gallery, 1989
“In the ’80s, [Mitchell is] moving back and forth between the close ups and the grand, wide-open vistas, the corners of her garden and the spectacular view overlooking the Seine from the hillside where her house sat in Vétheuil. Both experiences generated what she called ‘feeling’ and both types of looking at nature show up in the paintings—the intimate and the immersive.”
—Sarah Roberts, Curator and Head of Painting and Sculpture, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Marabeth Cohen-Tyler, the view of Vétheuil’s Notre Dame Cathedral from Mitchell’s garden, 1989
Joan Mitchell, Days, 1989
Beginning in the summer of 1984, Mitchell experienced a number of health setbacks. Nonetheless, she would continue to look to painting as a means of translating her own experience and harnessing the vitality of her experiences and impressions. She resolutely returned to her studio and continued to produce works that required great physical effort in their use of gesture and movement across large, and sometimes multiple, canvases.
Joan Mitchell, Land, 1989. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Joan Mitchell in her studio, Vétheuil, summer 1991. Photo by Christopher Campbell
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