Joan Mitchell

Joan Mitchell

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a€œGee, Joan, if only you were French and male and dead.a€ a€”New York art dealer to Joan Mitchell, the 1950s She was a steel heiress from the Midwesta€”Chicago and Lake Forest (her grandfather built Chicagoa€™s bridges and worked for Andrew Carnegie). She was a daughter of the American Revolutiona€”Anglo-Saxon, Republican, Episcopalian. She was tough, disciplined, courageous, dazzling, and went up against the masculine art world at its most entrenched, made her way in it, and disproved their notion that women couldna€™t paint. Joan Mitchell is the first full-scale biography of the abstract expressionist painter who came of age in the 1950s, a€™60s, and a€™70s; a portrait of an outrageous artist and her struggling artist world, painters making their way in the second part of Americaa€™s twentieth century. As a young girl she was a champion figure skater, and though she lacked balance and coordination, accomplished one athletic triumph after another, until giving up competitive skating to become a painter. Mitchell saw people and things in color; color and emotion were the same to her. She said, a€œI use the past to make my pic[tures] and I want all of it and even you and me in candlelight on the train and every a€˜lovera€™ Ia€™ve ever hada€”every frienda€”nothing closed out. Ita€™s all part of me and I want to confront it and sleep with ita€”the dreamsa€”and paint it.a€ Her work had an unerring sense of formal rectitude, daring, and discipline, as well as delicacy, grace, and awkwardness. Mitchell exuded a young, smoky, tough glamour and was thought of as a€œsexy as hell.a€ Albers writes about how Mitchell married her girlhood pal, Barnet Rosset, Jr.a€”scion of a financier who was head of Chicagoa€™s Metropolitan Trust and partner of Jimmy Roosevelt. Rosset went on to buy Grove Press in 1951, at Mitchella€™s urging, and to publish Henry Miller, Samuel Beckett, Jean Genet, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, et al., making Grove into the great avant-garde publishing house of its time. Mitchella€™s life was messy and reckless: in New York and East Hampton carousing with de Kooning, Frank Oa€™Hara, James Schuyler, Jane Freilicher, Franz Kline, Helen Frankenthaler, and others; going to clambakes, cocktail parties, softball gamesa€”and living an entirely different existence in Paris and VActheuil. Mitchella€™s inner life embraced a world beyond her own craft, especially literature . . . her compositions were informed by imagined landscapes or feelings about places. In Joan Mitchell, Patricia Albers brilliantly reconstructs the paintera€™s large and impassioned life: her growing prominence as an artist; her marriage and affairs; her friendships with poets and painters; her extraordinary work. Joan Mitchell re-creates the times, the people, and her worlds from the 1920s through the 1990s and brings it all spectacularly to life. From the Hardcover edition.Joan Mitchell re-creates the times, the people, and her worlds from the 1920s through the 1990s and brings it all spectacularly to life. From the Hardcover edition.

Title:Joan Mitchell
Author:Patricia Albers
Publisher:Knopf - 2011-05-03


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