A detail of a pastel work on paper by Joan Mitchell, titled Pastel, dated 1991.
Joan Mitchell
Photograph by David Turnley of Joan Mitchell in her Vétheuil studio, dated 1991.

Joan Mitchell in her Vétheuil studio, 1991. Photo by David Turnley. ©⁠ David Turnley

Joan Mitchell in her Vétheuil studio, 1991. Photo by David Turnley. ©⁠ David Turnley

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 interpretation of the traditional figure-ground relationship and synesthetic use of color set her apart from her peers. Her emotionally charged compositions conjure places, observations, or points in time.  

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A painting by Joan Mitchell, titled Pastel, dated 1991.

Joan Mitchell

Pastel, 1991
Pastel on paper
47 3/4 x 31 5/8 inches 
121.3 x 80.3 cm
A painting by Joan Mitchell, titled Pastel, dated 1991.

Joan Mitchell, Pastel, 1991

Joan Mitchell, Pastel, 1991

The present work will be included in the forthcoming retrospective organized by the Baltimore Museum of Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Mitchell made pastel drawings throughout her career as another way to explore the vibrant color and layered mark-making that typify her paintings. Belonging to a suite of large-scale pastels on paper made at Vétheuil, France, this work was shown in the first museum exhibition of Mitchell’s drawings, at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1992.

A detail of a pastel work on paper by Joan Mitchell, titled Pastel, dated 1991.

Joan Mitchell, Pastel, 1991 (detail)

Joan Mitchell, Pastel, 1991 (detail)

A photograph of pastels in Joan Mitchell's studio by David Seidner

Pastels in Joan Mitchell’s Vétheuil studio. Photo by David Seidner.

Pastels in Joan Mitchell’s Vétheuil studio. Photo by David Seidner.

Image of a catalogue by John Cheim, Joan Mitchell, and Klaus Kertess, titled, Joan Mitchell: Pastel, dated 1992.

Klaus Kertess, Joan Mitchell: Pastel. Catalogue published on the occasion of the 1992 Whitney Museum of American Art exhibition.

Klaus Kertess, Joan Mitchell: Pastel. Catalogue published on the occasion of the 1992 Whitney Museum of American Art exhibition.

“The pastels are like a coda to [Mitchell’s] painting; they are no less profound for the greater intimacy and directness attendant upon their smaller size. The vital grace makes more immediately visible and accessible Mitchell’s vivid orchestration of the energies of color, light, and line.” —⁠Klaus Kertess

A photograph by Edouard Boubat of Joan Mitchell outside her home in Vétheuil, 1984.

Joan Mitchell outside her home in Vétheuil, 1984. Photo by Edouard Boubat. ©⁠ Estate of Edouard Boubat

Joan Mitchell outside her home in Vétheuil, 1984. Photo by Edouard Boubat. ©⁠ Estate of Edouard Boubat


Josef Albers
Harold Ancart
Carol Bove
Donald Judd
Yayoi Kusama
Kerry James Marshall
Joan Mitchell
Giorgio Morandi

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