Joan Mitchell was a key figure of the painters in the American abstract expressionist movement, although much of her artistic career took place in France. Ms. Mitchell’s earlier works were inspired by the images she found in the works of Wassily Kandinsky, Henri Matisse, Paul Cezanne, Willem de Kooning, and Franz Kline.
Joan Mitchell’s artwork career goes through a progression as she continued to find herself and to become mature in her artistic thoughts, emotions, and visions. Joan Mitchell was known for her bold colours and sweeping brushstrokes, especially in her multi-panelled paintings. Her paintings were inspired by her love of nature, landscapes, and poetry. Mitchell’s response to what her paintings convey, evoked her to say that her intent was not to create a recognisable image, but to convey emotions.
Speaking of emotions, Joan Mitchell was known for her abrasive personality and very independent spirit, which were considered key factors in the interpretation of many of her paintings, that seemed to express rage, even violence. Joan Mitchell was introduced to her artistic technique when she painted and studied during her stay in New York City, which at the time was dominated by the Abstract Expressionist movement, highlighted by Arshile Gorky and Jackson Pollock, as well as poets like Frank O’Hara, James Schuyler and John Ashbery. With Joan Mitchell’s introduction into expressionism, her paintings, cubist cityscapes, figures, and interiors, became her progressive, mainstay style. Joan Mitchell painted and travelled from New York to France during the 50’s and 60’s. Her travels were the result of a different set of artistic friends, including Jean-Paul Riopelle, who became her paramour and artistic collaborator.
Her different medium forms are displayed in her Edrita Fried 1981 oil on canvas, four panel display; her untitled four panelled pencil and water cololr on paper; and her large colourful lithograph on three sheets, entitled Little Weeds I. Joan Mitchell eventually made the town of Vetheuil, Paris her permanent home, which she opened up to young artists to stay, sometimes for a summer and sometimes for just one night. On her death, the Joan Mitchell Foundation was formed at her request, in order to create, support, and recognise individual artists. The Foundation also promotes Joan Mitchell’s legacy in the form her paintings, correspondence, photographs, and all archival materials related to her life and work.