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MITCHELL Trees C H E I M & R E A D N EW YOR K 2014

J oh n Ya u

Joan Mitchell’s Sixth Sense

Thirty years ago, the curator and art historian Paul Schimmel made

a distinction about Joan Mitchell’s paintings that I want to restate at the outset. In pinpointing the difference between Mitchell and the older Abstract Expressionists, particularly Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline, Schimmel stated:

Never randomly placing lines, Mitchell precisely constructs a picture.

Her works are “about making a picture” (cubism) and not “letting it

happen” (automatism). Her works epitomize a shift in abstract expressionism

from chance, hazard and the uncontrolled freedom of the unconscious

to a new direction with breath, freshness, and light within a highly

structured armature not unlike [Piet] Mondrian’s trees. Mitchell’s lines

do not float around in a representational space, instead, she anchors via

gravity, at the bottom of the painting. Her painting sprouts upward,

defying gravity and becoming more lyrical and open at the top. i

Look closely at a Mitchell painting – at Red Tree (1976) or Tilleul

(Linden Tree) (1978), for example – and you will find little evidence of the angst or struggle we associate with either Pollock or de Kooning or with Alberto Giacometti, for that matter. Her work doesn’t seem to have much to do with existentialism. Instead, we experience the exhilarating realization that no matter how haphazard the flurry of Mitchell’s brushstrokes might initially appear, they are exactly where they’re supposed to be. Even when she wipes away a passage, it feels as necessary to the painting as the brushstroke beside it. What viewers encounter is the record of a bravura performance unmarred by

Joan with George in East Hampton, 1953. Photo Barney Rosset.

hesitations or second thoughts. This is what I believe Schimmel was getting at when he underscored Mitchell’s precision. It is a view that runs counter to our understanding of Abstract Expressionism, particularly of those artists disposed to the gestural deployment of a loaded brush.

For Mitchell, who was a champion figure skater as a teenager, rigor and

expressiveness are not mutually exclusive activities. The strict discipline of competitive figure skating had taught her that repetition – which for her was manifested in drawing and the use of line – could help her attain an animated eloquence. I would further advance that Mitchell’s precision isn’t geometric but rhythmic and visceral and, in that regard, related to figure skating. She possessed a bodily understanding of how to make a gesture move, spin, rise and fall through space. This is where Mondrian, who loved to dance, comes in. In his tree paintings, Mondrian activated the painting’s entire surface through the use of interlacing lines, while in his wave and pier paintings he did the same with plusand-minus marks and varying lengths of vertical and horizontal lines.

Piet Mondrian The Red Tree 1908–10 Collection Gemeentemuseum Den Haag

Mondrian’s paintings became important to Mitchell in the mid-1950s,

but so did Chaim Soutine’s agitated, unstructured, non-cubist paintings, as well as Vincent Van Gogh’s merging of bristling brushstrokes with nature’s endless struggle for survival, and Paul Cezanne’s synthesis of brushstroke and color to

simultaneously convey flatness and spatiality. Mitchell’s ability to internalize and transform these precedents and other influences into something all her own is fitting testimony to both her intellect and ambition: she wanted to make work that is fresh and new without jettisoning the past. That she achieved her goal is one of the glories of postwar American art.

Vincent Van Gogh Cypresses with Two Female Figures 1889 Collection Kröller-Müller Museum

While Mondrian’s emphasis on structuring and activating the painting’s

entire surface seems to have inspired Mitchell in myriad ways, neither his work nor direct observation are the source of paintings such as Hemlock (1956), First Cypress (1964) or Tilleul (Linden Tree) (1978). As Mitchell said to Schimmel in 1980: “I carry my landscape around with me.” What I believe Mitchell was getting at when she made this observation is the subject of this essay.

In his article, “An expressionist in Paris,” (ARTnews, April 1965), John

Ashbery cites Mitchell as saying: “I’m trying to remember what I felt about a certain cypress tree and I feel if I remember it, it will last me quite a long time.” At the end of the article, Ashbery cites her once more: “That particular thing I want can’t be verbalized. I like to look out of a window or at photos or pictures

or at that awful thing called nature. I’m trying for something more specific than movies of my everyday life: To define a feeling.”

In 1986, more than twenty years after Ashbery’s citation and six years after

Mitchell answered Schimmel, she had an illuminating exchange ii with the French philosopher Yves Michaud, a portion of which I would like to cite:

Yves Michaud: What inspires you to paint?

Joan Mitchell: When I was sick, they moved me to a room with a window and through the window I saw two fir trees in a park, and the grey sky, and the beautiful grey rain, and I was so happy. It had something to do with being alive. I could see the pine trees, and I felt I could paint. If I could see them, I felt I could paint a painting. Last year, I could not paint. For a while I did not react to anything. All I saw was a white metallic color.

Yves Michaud: When you started painting again, you painted dying sunflowers. I remember you said to me then, “at least I can feel them.”

Joan Mitchell: That was the Between group. Then I painted the two diptychs, “Faded Air” and “Xavier.” Sunflowers are something I feel very intensely. They look so wonderful when young and they are so very moving when they are dying. I don’t like fields of sunflowers. I like them alone or, of course, painted by Van Gogh.

Yves Michaud: You talk of feeling, existing, living.

Joan Mitchell: I think it’s all the same, except for quality. Existing is survival; it does not mean necessarily feeling. You can say “good morning,” “good evening.” Feeling is something more: it’s feeling your existence. It’s not just survival. Painting is a means of feeling “living.”

In order to “carry the landscape around with [her],” Mitchell had to

“remember what [she] felt” about it, and that if she “remember[ed] it, it [would] last [her] quite a long time.” In her use of “felt,” one senses that memories of any importance were visceral and located in the body, rather than images derived from the world or, as she put it, “movies of [her] everyday life.” In Mitchell’s final observation to Michaud, she talks about “feeling your existence,” with painting as

the means to making “feeling ‘living’” happen.

One doesn’t have to read between the lines to realize that Mitchell is

calling attention to the bodily nature of experience, rather than to sight and seeing. Her rejection of art as “movies of [her] everyday life” suggests that her art emerged from within her, guided by her body, rather than from the outside, determined by her eyes. I believe this understanding of experience – that it is visceral rather than optical – should inform how we look at Mitchell’s work. It should also help explain her deep antipathy to Clement Greenberg, and why she disavowed the influence of Claude Monet. She was never interested in fields of color. For her, Cezanne, who felt that Monet’s work lacked “solidity, a framework,” was a key figure. As Schimmel stated, Mitchell’s work is “about making a picture” in which her brushstrokes are both gestural and structural.

Paul Cézanne Arbres; Winding Road c. 1904 Collection Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum

Mitchell is neither an observational artist nor one who abstracts from

e x p e r i e n c e . R a t h e r, s h e f e e l s h e r w a y a c r o s s a c a n v a s , a c t i v a t i n g i t w i t h a w i d e range of marks – verticals, diagonals and horizontals, and calligraphic strokes

that turn in any number of ways, in midflight. In her brushstrokes, which c a n g o f r o m l o a d e d t o d r y, M i t c h e l l e m b r a c e s b o t h t h e p h y s i c a l a n d v i s u a l , r a t h e r t h a n p r i v i l e g i n g o n e o v e r t h e o t h e r. E v e r y t h i n g i n h e r w o r k i s d e f i n e d b y p a i n t ’s p a r t i c u l a r p r o p e r t i e s : w a t e r y d r o p s t o s p r a y s t o b u t t e r y s t r o k e s t o encrusted pigment.

In 1906, the Nobel scientist, Charles Scott Sherrington, published a

landmark book, The Integrative Action of the Ner vous System, a compendium of his Silliman lectures delivered at Yale University, in which he introduced the terms exteroception, interoception and proprioception. The eyes, ears, mouth, and skin are the "exteroceptors," the organs responsible for information from outside the body. The “interoceptors” give information about the internal organs (hunger, thirst), while "proprioception" is an awareness of movement derived from muscular, tendon, and joint sources.

Sherrington’s formulations about how individuals apprehend reality

influenced the poet and doctor, William Carlos Williams. Picking up on Williams, proprioception became a favored term of the poet and literary theorist, Charles Olson, who wrote: “one’s life is
informed from and by one’s own literal body.” Proprioception, which has also been called the “sixth sense,” helps contextualize Mitchell’s remarks that “I carry my landscapes around with me” and that her paintings of trees come from what she calls ”feeling ‘living.’”

As a champion figure skater, Mitchell would have intrinsically understood

proprioception, which is the innate visualization of the body’s movement in space and the relationship of the body’s parts to each other. Her years of competitive figure skating would have helped her develop what has also been called “muscle memory,” a form of procedural memory that can trigger a skill honed through repetition. In its striving for perfection, practice can lead to a feat that goes beyond societal expectations, astonishing even the maker. This sense of visceral wonderment and elation seems to have been what Mitchell was after in her work.

Hemlock (1956) is Mitchell’s first major painting in a long run of masterful

works that include George Went Swimming at Bar nes Hole, but It Got Too Cold (1957), Ladybug (1957), To The Harbor master (1957), which is named after a poem

by Frank O’Hara, and the series of paintings titled Cercando un Ago (1957–1960). The inspiration for its title presumably came from Wallace Stevens’ poem, “Domination of Black,” included in his Collected Poems (1954), which Mitchell is likely to have read shortly after it was published. Here is the first stanza: At night, by the fire,
 The colors of the bushes
 And of the fallen leaves,
 Repeating themselves,
 Turned in the room,
 Like the leaves themselves
 Turning in the wind.
 Yes: but the color of the heavy hemlocks
 Came striding.
 And I remembered the cry of the peacocks.

“Domination of Black” conjures up a between state, at once threatened

and ominous. I think the state of change implied in the poem interested Mitchell enormously, especially the allusions to movement (“Turned,” “Turning,” “striding”), which she equated with vitality.

That Mitchell drew inspiration from a high modernist poem is not

surprising. Her mother, Marion Strobel Mitchell, was a published poet and coeditor of the important little magazine, Poetr y. She began reading poetry when she was young and continued to do so throughout her life. As a child she met Dylan Thomas and Edna St. Vincent Millay. After Mitchell settled in New York in 1950, she met artists and poets, including Frank O’Hara, who dedicated a number of poems to her, and John Ashbery. There is much that could be written about Mitchell’s relationship to poetry and poets, but that is rightfully the subject of another essay.

If we look at the work that Mitchell completed in 1954 and ‘55, and at

her use of horizontal and vertical strokes in particular, it seems evident that Mondrian’s tree paintings are on her mind. It is also evident that the 1956 Hemlock represents a turning point. In Hemlock, Mitchell is more aggressive and assured in her application of paint, as well as more complete in her attack

on the whole canvas. The other change is that the juicy brushstrokes, form a tangled network that Mitchell unites through her application of grayish-white paint between the different colored strokes. Much of the painting is occupied by a loosely defined form consisting of mostly black and dark gray lines embedded within a grayish-white cloud made of palpable paint. The dark green, blue and red brushstrokes force us to refocus our attention from the center to the edges.

The upper half of Hemlock, extending away from the central axis, is

composed of horizontal strokes, but near the painting’s top edge, and left of center, she has made a thick vertical stroke, slanting slightly to the left, capping an implied form reaching to the bottom edge of the painting, which she reinforces with swatches of dirty white paint. Around the periphery of this form, Mitchell has applied thinner and quicker calligraphic strokes, a number of which dance along the physical edges of the canvas’s upper left and right quadrants. While the painting evokes a tree, both in the title and composition, the viewer doesn’t see a distinct tree-like form. The thin calligraphic lines, many of them similar in shape to an L, further activate the composition, make it seem as if the implied form is in a state of restless change.

Hemlock helps inaugurate a compositional format that Mitchell explores

throughout her career. It consists of darker brushstrokes that are interlaced, massed or crowded against a lighter, often whitish ground. Out of this simple juxtaposition Mitchell was able to develop many masterful works both in painting and drawing. The dark green vertical rectangle on the right hand side of First Cypress (1964) is an example of a geometric form laid over but not concealing an irregular mass of, in this case, congealed black paint. While the green rectangle is to the right of the painting’s vertical axis, part of the black mass extends across the invisible dividing line, eventually dissipating into a sparse tangle of aggressive brushstrokes. In First Cypress and Blue Tree (1964), we see early examples of Mitchell’s ability to make the space adjacent to a floating mass feel, paradoxically, both weighty and light in equal measure. Often she achieves this by activating the

surface of the space with calligraphic strokes and a spray of drops or drips. Nature becomes what happens in paint, within the enmity, hustle and bustle of the brushstrokes, further inflected by the rich luminous color (yellows, violets, deep blues) – more indications of the landscape the artist carries inside her.

Another compositional format, which Mitchell began exploring in

the mid-1970s, is comprised of vertical strokes extending upward from the b o t t o m o f t h e c a n v a s , a s s e e n i n p a i n t i n g s s u c h a s G re e n Tre e ( 1 9 7 6 ) a n d R e d Tre e ( 1 9 7 6 ) a n d c o n t i n u i n g u p t o t h e d e f i a n t l y s o m b e r Ti l l e u l ( L i n d e n Tre e ) (1992), done the year she died. A feeling of yearning and insolence permeates p a i n t i n g s s u c h a s R e d Tre e , w h i l e a s e n s e o f s t r u g g l e i s f e l t i n t h e “ Ti l l e u l ” paintings, which she began in the late 1970s.

There is a stark, almost harsh feeling to Red Tree, with its single dry

brushstroke the color of dried blood rising from the bottom edge until it sprouts into a crown near the top of the painting. In between there are passages where disorder and coherence are inseparable. The combination of these possibilities conveys the breadth of Mitchell’s mastery. She can move from an austere, naked paint stroke to areas of near chaos, where brushstrokes collide, fight, twist, and conceal, to places where they branch apart firmly and distinctly, without making a misstep or losing her way. If you didn’t know what a struggle painting was for her, you would think it all came naturally to her. The feeling of effortlessness throughout Red Tree is accompanied by a graphic precision that distinguishes it from the work of her contemporaries.

At the same time, I cannot help but think of the desire, as expressed by

Mark Rothko, for one, to strip painting down to its essentials. Mitchell had a parallel impulse to get a painting down to its basics, to make the paint both the means and the end. She doesn’t finesse her brushstrokes, which, in Red Tree, feel as bare as branches in winter. There is a tactility to the painting that is as much a part of the meaning as anything else in the work. The brushstrokes are tough but not brittle, seemingly able to withstand anything that may come their way. While her unique range of strokes may seem to be the quintessential Mitchell, I would

claim that she had many more identities and a much wider scale of emotions.

Mitchell’s brushstrokes could be dry and even gnarly, lush and sinuous,

aggressive and delicate. She had an unerring sense of color – I am thinking of the yellows peeking through the blue, turquoise and charcoal gray brushstrokes of Tilluel (Linden Tree) (1978). In contrast to Monet, with whom she was often compared, Mitchell was able to combine a summery palette with a wintry one, as often inflecting clusters of gray, dark green and black paint with touches of blue. In the diptych, Cypress (1980), the rhythmic array of yellow, black and violet brushstrokes conveys a sensualist celebration of color, light and tactility. Her application of the paint – simultaneously lyrical and matter-of-fact – has an unexpected affinity with that of Robert Ryman.

The depths of feeling Mitchell achieves in her work throughout her

career – from stalwart to vulnerable, and from harsh to delicate – establishes her as one of the great artists associated with Abstract Expressionism. By anchoring her compositions along the bottom edge, as she often did, her upwardly rising, vertical forms and brushstrokes represent something basic about the human spirit, even as the drips and the limits of the painting’s physical edges acknowledge gravity and the pressure of time. In an implicit critique of Pollock’s allover paintings, which seem to contain no bottom edge, Mitchell’s compositional framework uses its sense of gravity to locate the viewer in the painting’s schema. As a figure skater and as an artist, she knew that it was possible to defy gravity and leave the earth, but that no matter how high you rose into the air, you would still have to return to the earth. This is what makes Mitchell’s paintings so profoundly human. She never denies her mortality.

Paul Schimmel, “The Lost Generation” in ACTION/PRECISION: The New Direction in New York 1955–60 (Newport Harbor Art Museum 1984), p. 39. ii A copy of the transcribed interview dated January 12, 1986 with hand corrections by Mitchell, which was provided to me by the Joan Mitchell Foundation. i

Hemlock 1956 oil on canvas 91 x 80 in 231.1 x 203.2 cm Collection Whitney Museum of American Art

Blue Tree 1964 oil on canvas 97 5/8 x 78 in 248 x 198.1 cm Collection Worcester Art Museum

First Cypress 1964 oil on canvas 88 1/2 x 78 in 224.8 x 198.1 cm

River and Tree 1967–68 oil on canvas 102 1/2 x 79 in 260.4 x 200.7 cm

Chris's Dead Tree 1975 oil on canvas 102 1/2 x 71 in 260.4 x 180.3 cm

Cypresses 1975 oil on canvas diptych 76 3/4 x 102 in 194.9 x 259 cm

Green Tree 1976 oil on canvas 110 x 71 in 279.4 x 180.3 cm

Red Tree 1976 oil on canvas 110 3/8 x 63 in 280.4 x 160 cm

Tilleul (Linden Tree) 1978 oil on canvas 110 1/4 x 70 7/8 in 280 x 180 cm

Tilleul (Linden Tree) 1978 oil on canvas 102 3/8 x 70 7/8 in 260 x 180 cm Collection Centre Georges Pompidou

Tilleul (Linden Tree) 1977 pastel on paper 19 1/4 x 14 in 48.9 x 35.6 cm

Tilleul (Linden Tree) 1977 pastel on paper 19 1/4 x 13 3/4 in 48.9 x 34.9 cm

Tilleul (Linden Tree) 1978 oil on canvas 94 1/2 x 71 1/2 in 240 x 180 cm Collection Fondation Louis Vuitton pour la crĂŠation

Cypress 1980 oil on canvas diptych 86 3/4 x 142 in 220.3 x 360.7 cm Collection Fondation Louis Vuitton pour la crĂŠation

Taillade 1990 oil on canvas diptych 102 3/8 x 157 1/2 in 260 x 400 cm Collection Museum of Modern Art, New York

Trees 1990-91 oil on canvas diptych 86 3/4 x 157 1/2 in 220.3 x 400.1 cm

Trees 1990-91 oil on canvas diptych 94 1/2 x 157 1/2 in 240 x 400.1 cm

L'Arbre de Phyllis 1991 oil on canvas 110 1/4 x 78 3/4 in 280 x 200 cm

Tilleul (Linden Tree) 1992 oil on canvas diptych 110 1/4 x 157 1/2 in 280 x 400.1 cm Collection Centre Georges Pompidou

Joan Mitchell c. 1962

About the Joan Mitchell Foundation Several works in this exhibition are made available by the Joan Mitchell Foundation, an artist-endowed non-profit organization established in 1993. Artworks from the Foundation’s collection are sold, as needed, to support the Foundation’s programs and fulfill its mission. The Joan Mitchell Foundation celebrates the legacy of Joan Mitchell and expands her vision to support the aspirations and development of diverse contemporary artists. The Foundation’s mission is to broaden the recognition of artists and their essential contributions to communities and society. This mission is activated through a varied range of programming. The Foundation awards grants directly to individual artists through its Painters & Sculptors and Emergency Grant programs and provides funding to arts organizations that support visual artists in their respective communities. Since 1994, the Foundation has awarded grants to over eight hundred individual artists and provided funding to over eighty organizations. Additional programs operated by the Foundation include the Creating a Living Legacy (CALL) program, begun in 2006, that provides support to older artists in creating a comprehensive documentation of their careers. The CALL program has developed new ways to support mature artists through a range of tools, including the CALL Database, comprehensive resource workbooks, and by training emerging artists as Legacy Specialists. The Joan Mitchell Center, an artist community founded in 2010 and based in New Orleans, aspires to be a place for creation, innovation and transformation, by providing a forum for artists and acting as a welcoming, inclusive gathering place for artists and the broader community of New Orleans. While the Center is undergoing development of its own studios onsite, it has been hosting visiting artists and others working in the arts community. In late 2013 the Center began a year long pilot program designed to support to emerging artists by providing free studios, monthly stipends and professional development. The Center also curates and produces public programming, creating events that support values of community, diversity and social equity.

Begun in 1997, the Foundation’s Art Education program provides opportunities for both emerging youth and young adult artists through inclusive and diverse arts education programming. All programming is offered completely free and is open to the public. The program enhances the artistic education of young painters and sculptors through studio classes, in concert with other educational opportunities encouraging students to pursue and develop their voice in the arts. Simultaneously, the program supports the artistic development of working painters and sculptors through teaching opportunities, professional development training, and engagement with the artistic community. The Art Education program began with a single community partner, four Artist-Teachers and two classes that served approximately thirty students on Saturdays. Currently, the Art Education program partners with six organizations, offers Saturday, weekday, and summer programming, employs over forty Artist-Teachers, and serves one thousand students each week. In the summer of 2014, the Art Education program will expand programming once more as it moves into a newly renovated space in Manhattan, with dedicated classrooms, a media lab, and flexible meeting spaces. The Foundation includes the promotion and preservation of Joan Mitchell’s legacy as part of its mission. To fulfill this, the Foundation provides loans of Joan Mitchell artworks from its collection to museums, academic institutions and other non-profit arts spaces. Their archive houses Mitchell's papers, including correspondence and photographs, and other archival materials related to her life and work. The Foundation’s archives are open to all qualified researchers. Additionally, Foundation staff are available to answer reference questions and direct individuals to works by Joan Mitchell in museum collections. Staff also create educational materials to complement exhibitions and provide useful age appropriate materials for art educators. The newly renovated space in Manhattan will also house the archives and the Joan Mitchell Catalogue Raisonné Project being established in summer of 2014. Additional information about the Foundation and its programs can be found online at


1925 1992

Born February 12, Chicago, Illinois Died October 30, Paris, France

EDUCATION 1942–44 1944–47 1950 1950

Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts B.F.A., The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois Columbia University, New York M.F.A., The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois


Joan Mitchell: Trees, Cheim & Read, New York


Joan Mitchell, Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin, Germany Joan Mitchell: An American Master, Zoellner Arts Center, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania Joan Mitchell: At Home in Poetry, Poetry Foundation, Chicago, Illinois


Joan Mitchell: The Last Paintings, Hauser & Wirth, London, England Joan Mitchell: The Last Decade, The Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio


Joan Mitchell: The Last Paintings, Cheim & Read, New York Joan Mitchell: Paintings from the Fifties, Lennon, Weinberg, Inc., New York


Joan Mitchell: The Last Decade, Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills, California Joan Mitchell, Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, Scotland Joan Mitchell: Paintings, New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, Louisiana Joan Mitchell: Works on Paper, Newcomb Art Gallery, Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana Joan Mitchell: Prints, Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, Louisiana Joan Mitchell: The Roaring Fifties, Galerie Thomas Modern, Munich, Germany


Joan Mitchell: Drawings, Kukje Gallery, Seoul, South Korea Joan Mitchell: Sunflowers, Hauser & Wirth, Zurich, Switzerland

2008 Joan Mitchell: Sunflowers, Cheim & Read, New York Joan Mitchell: A Discovery of the New York School, Kunsthalle Emden, Germany; travelled to Palazzo Magnani, Reggio Emilia, Italy; Musée des Impressionnismes, Giverny, France Joan Mitchell: Paintings and Pastels 1973–1983, Lennon, Weinberg, Inc., New York

The linden tree (tilleul) on Joan Mitchell's property, 1984. Photo: Édouard Boubat.


Joan Mitchell: Works on Paper 1956–1992, Cheim & Read, New York Joan Mitchell: Leaving America, Hauser & Wirth, London, England

2006 2005

Joan Mitchell, de Young Museum, San Francisco, California Joan Mitchell: A Survey 1952–1992, Kukje Gallery, Seoul, South Korea


Joan Mitchell: The Presence of Absence, Cheim & Read, New York The Paintings of Joan Mitchell, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; travelled to Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, Alabama; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, Texas; the Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.; the Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, Iowa Working with Poets: Joan Mitchell, Tibor de Nagy, New York Joan Mitchell: Petit, Lennon, Weinberg, Inc., New York Joan Mitchell, Robert Miller Gallery, New York Joan Mitchell: Memory Abstracted, Edward Tyler Nahem Fine Art, New York


The Nature of Abstraction: Joan Mitchell Paintings, Drawings, and Prints, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota


Joan Mitchell: From Nature to Abstraction, Nave Museum, Victoria, Texas Joan Mitchell: Paintings 1950-1955 from the Estate of Joan Mitchell, Robert Miller Gallery, New York


Joan Mitchell: Selected Paintings, Lennon, Weinberg, Inc., New York Joan Mitchell, IVAM Centre Julio Gonzáles, Valencia, Spain Joan Mitchell, Galerie Won, Seoul, South Korea Pastels by Joan Mitchell, Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.


Joan Mitchell: Paintings from 1956 to 1958, Robert Miller Gallery, New York Joan Mitchell: Pastels, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen, Rouen, France


Joan Mitchell: Selected Paintings and Pastels 1950–1990, Manfred Baumgartner Galleries, Inc., Washington, D.C. Joan Mitchell: Tilleuls 1978 Huiles sur toile & Pastels, Galerie Jean Fournier, Paris, France Joan Mitchell: Pastels, Les Cordeliers Châteauroux, Châteauroux, France


Joan Mitchell: les dernières années 1983–1992, Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris, France

Frémicourt Paintings 1960–62, Cheim & Read, New York Joan Mitchell: Prints from the Foundation, Susan Sheehan Gallery, New York Joan Mitchell Sketchbook 1941–51, Francis Naumann Fine Art, New York Joan Mitchell: The 1946–1952 Sketchbook Drawings and Related Works, Pollock Gallery, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas

Joan Joan Joan Joan Joan

Mitchell in Vétheuil, Newport Harbor Art Museum, Newport Beach, California Mitchell: Oeuvres de 1951 à 1982, Musée des Beaux Arts de Nantes, Nantes, France Mitchell “ black paintings...”1964, Robert Miller Gallery, New York Mitchell: Works on Paper, Montgomery Glasoe Fine Art, Minneapolis, Minnesota Mitchell: Pastels, Galerie Jean Fournier, Paris, France


Joan Mitchell 1992, Robert Miller Gallery, New York Joan Mitchell Prints and Illustrated Books: A Retrospective, Susan Sheehan Gallery, New York 83rd Annual Exhibition: Joan Mitchell, Maier Museum of Art, Randolph–Macon Woman's College, Lynchburg, Virginia Joan Mitchell: 26 Farbige Radierungen, 1972–1989, Galerie Daniel Blau, Munich, Germany Joan Mitchell, Galerie Ulrike Barthel, Bremen, Germany Joan Mitchell: Etchings and Lithographs, Pace Prints, New York


Joan Mitchell: Pastel, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York Joan Mitchell: Recent Lithographs, Susan Sheehan Gallery, New York Joan Mitchell Sunflowers and Trees Series, Tyler Graphics, Mt. Kisco, New York Joan Mitchell: Trees & Other Paintings 1960 to 1990, Laura Carpenter Fine Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico Joan Mitchell, Galerie Jean Fournier, Paris, France Joan Mitchell: New Prints, Bobbie Greenfield Fine Art, Venice, California Joan Mitchell, Le Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain (FRAC) de Haute-Normandie & l’Association des Amis du Château d’Etelan, Château d’Etelan, Saint-Maurice-d’Etelan, France


Joan Mitchell, Robert Miller Gallery, New York


Joan Mitchell: Champs, Galerie Jean Fournier, Paris, France Joan Mitchell: Paintings and Drawings, Barbara Mathes Gallery, New York


Joan Mitchell, Robert Miller Gallery, New York

1988 1987

The Paintings of Joan Mitchell: Thirty–Six Years of Natural Expressionism, organized by Judith Bernstock and the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York; travelled to Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California; Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla, California; Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York Joan Mitchell: Selected Paintings Spanning Thirty Years, Manny Silverman Gallery, Los Angeles, California


Joan Mitchell: New Paintings, Xavier Fourcade Inc., New York

Joan Mitchell: Peintures, 1986 et 1987 - River, Lille, Chord, Galerie Jean Fournier, Paris, France

Joan Mitchell: An Exhibition of Paintings and Works on Paper, Keny & Johnson Gallery, Columbus, Ohio


Joan Mitchell: The Sixties, Xavier Fourcade Inc., New York


Joan Mitchell: La Grande Vallée, Galerie Jean Fournier, Paris, France Joan Mitchel: La Grande Vallée et autres peintures, Galerie Jean Fournier at the Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain, Grand Palais, Paris, France


Joan Mitchell: New Paintings, Xavier Fourcade Inc., New York


Joan Mitchell: Choix des peintures 1970–1982, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris, France


Joan Mitchell, Gloria Luria Gallery, Bay Harbor, Florida Joan Mitchell: New Paintings, Xavier Fourcade, Inc., New York Joan Mitchell: Paintings and Works on Paper, Janie C. Lee Gallery, Houston, Texas


Joan Mitchell: The Fifties, Important Paintings, Xavier Fourcade Inc., New York Joan Mitchell: Major Paintings, Richard Hines Gallery, Seattle, Washington Joan Mitchell, Galerie Jean Fournier, Paris, France


Joan Mitchell, Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco, California


Joan Mitchell: New Paintings and Pastels, Ruth S. Schaffner Gallery, Los Angeles, California Joan Mitchell, Webb and Parsons Gallery, Bedford Village, New York Joan Mitchell, Galerie Jean Fournier, Paris, France


Joan Mitchell, New Paintings, 1977, Xavier Fourcade, Inc., New York


Joan Mitchell, New Paintings, 1976, Xavier Fourcade, Inc., New York Joan Mitchell, Galerie Jean Fournier, Paris, France


Joan Mitchell, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York Joan Mitchell: Recent Paintings, The Arts Club of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois


Joan Mitchell, Ruth Schaffner Gallery, Los Angeles, California


My Five Years in the Country: An Exhibition of Forty-Nine Paintings by Joan Mitchell, Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York; travelled to Martha Jackson Gallery, New York, where work was exhibited as Blue Series 1970-1971 and The Fields Series 1971–1972


Joan Mitchell, Galerie Jean Fournier et Cie, Paris, France


Joan Mitchell, Galerie Jean Fournier et Cie, Paris, France


Joan Mitchell: Recent Paintings, Martha Jackson Gallery, New York


Joan Mitchell, Galerie Jean Fournier et Cie, Paris, France


Joan Mitchell, Stable Gallery, New York


Paintings by Joan Mitchell, The New Gallery, Hayden Library, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts Joan Mitchell, Galerie Jacques Dubourg, Paris, France Joan Mitchell, Galerie Lawrence, Paris, France Joan Mitchell: Ausstellung von Ă–lbildern, Galerie Klipstein und Kornfeld, Bern, Switzerland


Recent Paintings by Joan Mitchell, Stable Gallery, New York Joan Mitchell, B.C. Holland Gallery, Chicago, Illinois Joan Mitchell, Dwan Gallery, Los Angeles, California Joan Mitchell Paintings 1951–1961, Mr. and Mrs. John Russell Mitchell Gallery, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois Joan Mitchell, Holland-Goldowsky Galllery, Chicago, Illinois


Joan Mitchell, Gallery Neufville, Paris, France Joan Mitchell, Galleria dell'Ariete, Milan, Italy


Joan Mitchell, Stable Gallery, New York


Joan Mitchell, Stable Gallery, New York


Joan Mitchell, Stable Gallery, New York


Joan Mitchell, Stable Gallery, New York


Joan Mitchell, Stable Gallery, New York


Joan Mitchell, New Gallery, New York

1950 1943

Paintings by Joan Mitchell, Bank Lane Gallery, Lake Forest, Illinois Joan Mitchell, St. Paul Gallery and School of Art, St. Paul, Minnesota Solo exhibition, home of Mrs. George Roberts, Lake Forest, Illinois Solo exhibition, Francis Parker School, Chicago, Illinois

AWARDS 1991 1989 1987 1973 1971 1961 1947

Le Grand Prix des Arts (Peinture) of the City of Paris Award for Painting, French Ministry of Culture Honorary Doctorate, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago Brandeis University Creative Arts Awards; Citation in Painting Honorary Doctorate, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio Premio Lissone, Milan Edward L. Ryerson Travelling Fellowship from the Art Institute of Chicago

PUBLIC COLLECTIONS Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts Albright–Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois Arts Club of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois Berardo Museum - Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art, Lisbon, Portugal Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation, Houston, Texas Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, Alabama Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas, Austin, Texas Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, Florida Butler Institute of Contemporary Art, Youngstown, Ohio Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain, Jouy–en–Josas, France Castellani Art Museum, Niagara University, Lewiston, New York Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, New Hampshire Daros-Exhibitions, Zurich, Switzerland The Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, Ohio Denver Art Museum, Denver, Colorado The Empire State Plaza Art Collection, Albany, New York Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts FRAC - Haute-Normandie, Sotteville-lès-Rouen, France FRAC - Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Marseille, France Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia Georgia Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia J. Paul Getty Trust, Los Angeles, California The Hillman Foundation, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.

Hofstra University Museum, Hempstead, New York Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, Indiana Johnson Wax Collection, National Collection of Fine Arts, Washington D.C. Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri University of Kentucky Art Museum, Lexington, Kentucky LAAC - Lieu d'Art et Action Contemporaine de Dunkerque, Dunkerque, France LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton Foundation, Paris, France Fondation Maeght, Saint-Paul, France The McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, Texas The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York James A. Michener Collection, University of Texas, Austin, Texas Musée des Beaux-Arts de Caen, Caen, France Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville, Florida Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts The Museum of Modern Art, New York Fonds National d'Art Contemporain, Puteaux, France National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C. Osaka City Art Museum of Modern Art, Osaka, Japan The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France Fonds Regional d'Art Contemporain, Marseille, France Fonds Regional d'Art Contemporain, Sotteville-les-Rouen, France Foundation de 11 Lijnen, Oudenburg, Belgium Museum of the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island Rockefeller Institute, New York Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis, Missouri Samsung Museum, Seoul, South Korea San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art, Shizuoka–shi, Japan Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago, Illinois The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York The Tate Gallery, London, England Ulster Museum, Belfast, Northern Ireland University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor, Michigan Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota Whitney Museum of American Art, New York Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, Massachusetts Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut

Printed in an edition of 2,000 on the occasion of the 2014 exhibition

JOAN MITCHELL Trees Design John Cheim Essay John Yau Editor Ellen Robinson

Hemlock, 1956. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Friends of the Whitney Museum of American Art. Digital Image © Whitney Museum of American Art. Blue Tree, 1964. Worcester Art Museum. First Cypress, 1964. Private Collection. Courtesy Hauser & Wirth. River and Tree, 1967–68. Private Collection. Chris’s Dead Tree, 1975. Courtesy Lennon Weinberg Inc. Cypresses, 1975. Private Collection, New York. Red Tree, 1976. Private Collection. Tilleul (Linden Tree). 1992. Musee National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou. Photo: Philippe Migeat. © CNAC/MNAM/Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Art Resource, NY. Tilleul (Linden Tree), 1978. Collection Fondation Louis Vuitton pour la creation. Cypress, 1980. Collection Fondation Louis Vuitton pour la creation. Taillade. 1990. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Galerie Jean Fournier, Enid A. Haupt Fund, and Helen Acheson Bequest (by exchange). Digital Image © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, New York. L'Arbre de Phyllis. Private Collection. Image courtesy Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Tilleul. 1978. Musee National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France. Photo: Jean-Claude Planchet. © CNAC/MNAM/Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Art Resource, New York. Dust jacket: Trees, 1990-91. Opposite page: Vétheuil, 1984. Photo: Édouard Boubat. All other images © Estate of Joan Mitchell. Courtesy Joan Mitchell Foundation. Editorial assistance Dulce Shultz and Kim Treanor. Printed in Italy by Trifolio ISBN 978–0–9914681–2–6 We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to Carolyn Somers, Kira Osti, Laura Morris and the Board of the Joan Mitchell Foundation.

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4/18/14 4:22 PM

Mitchell trees  

Exhibition catalogue for Joan Mitchell. Trees at Cheim & Read, New York.

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