joan mitchell: i carry my landscapes around with me

 

joan mitchell: i carry my landscapes around with me

an exhibition of the artist’s panoramic, multi-paneled paintings

at david zwirner gallery in new york, ny

from  3 may-22 june 2019

 

front gallery | david zwirner | new york, NY

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

 

from ‘to joan mitchell’

 

‘…like her great canvas

in four panels,

continuous field so charged

as to fill the room in which it hangs

with an inaudible humming,

as if to erase the gallery over which it triumphs…’

-from ‘to joan mitchell’, a poem from ‘fire to fire: new and selected poems by mark doty

 

joan mitchell (1925-1992) | la seine | oil on canvas in four (4) parts | 1967

governor nelson a. rockefeller empire state plaza art collection, new york state, office of general services

one of mitchell’s first quadriptychs

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

 

in 1968, joan mitchell moved her primary studio from the city of paris to the french countryside.

 

‘with the move to vétheuil, joan’s paintings had grown larger, more expansive, and more often multi-paneled. 

at [rue] fremicourt [her studio in paris from 1958-1968] she had first become serious about diptychs and triptychs as a way of making large paintings in a small studio. 

bigger but never big enough, vétheuil could accommodate at most two moderately sized adjacent panels, no higher than nine feet two inches, however; because of the ceiling beams.

…the restrictions on width meant that she could not view large multi-paneled paintings-in-progress in their entirety but, rather, had to put the parts together in her mind.’

-from joan mitchell, lady painter by patricia albers (page 326)

 

joan mitchell (1925-1992) | rivière | oil on canvas in two (2) parts | 1990

collection of the joan mitchell foundation

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

 

joan mitchell (1925-1992) | minnesota | oil on canvas in four (4) parts | 1980

collection of the joan mitchell foundation

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

 

‘in the dyptychs and triptychs she grappled with likeness and difference,

wholeness and parts. 

moreover, the panels served as forms to go up against,

like stanzas in lyric poetry,

which also weds structure to emotional release.’

-from joan mitchell, lady painter by patricia albers (page 326)

 

joan mitchell (1925-1992) | untitled | oil on canvas in two (2) parts | 1972

collection of the joan mitchell foundation

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

 

‘joan’s favorite multi-panel format was the horizontal triptych composed of vertical modules;

she loved the way the cool vertical cuts between the panels undermined the landscape effect

and loved too everything she could make happen around those vertical cuts.’ 

 

‘unlike most artists, joan drew vertically, making use of the weight and drag mark of her hand.’

-from joan mitchell, lady painter by patricia albers (pages 326 and 357)

 

joan mitchell (1925-1992) | untitled | oil on canvas in three (3) parts | 1974-1975

private collection, minneapolis, MN

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

 

north gallery | david zwirner | new york, NY

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

 

in addition to her unusual technique, joan was not only eidetic, but also synesthetic, which affected her memory, her perception, and therefore her art.

she saw letters in color.  so, her perception of poetry was visual, as well as narrative.

she heard sounds in color.  so, she painted to classical or jazz music.

even people (or pets) emanated color.  so, when painting an homage to a loved one, such as her former psychoanalyst and long-time friend, edrita fried (1911-1981), she strategically selected the appropriate colors.

 

‘for the analyst’s daughter, jacqueline fried, in any case, the painting’s oranges nail her mother’s energy and rage, and its blues, her profound sadness. 

‘edrita fried’ appeared in the 1983 whitney biennial, which jaqui attended. 

when the museum’s elevator doors opened to reveal this twenty-six-foot-wide painting,

jaqui jumped, ‘because it was as if my mother were standing there…it was really my mother!’

-from joan mitchell: lady painter by patricia albers (page 367)

 

joan mitchell (1925-1992) | edrita fried | oil on canvas in four (4) parts | 1981

collection of the joan mitchell foundation

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

 

joan mitchell (1925-1992) | row row | oil on canvas in two (2) parts | 1982

collection of the joan mitchell foundation

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

 

joan mitchell (1925-1992) | untitled | oil on canvas in two (2) parts | 1992

collection of the joan mitchell foundation

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

 

her ‘photographic memory’ was not only visual, but also auditory, sensual, and emotional, not unlike virtual reality.

sometimes, she painted in cycles, from memories of the seine river, rivers and trees, fields and territories, or sunflowers.

 

joan mitchell (1925-1992) | sunflowers | oil on canvas in two (2) parts | 1991

collection of the joan mitchell foundation

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

 

‘i carry my landscapes around with me.

-joan mitchell (1925-1992)

-from mitchell paints a picture‘, an article from artnews by irving sandler, originally published in october 1957
click here to read the article

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