tag archives: abstract expressionism

 


 

every picture tells a story.

yet, abstract art can also be narrative.

through abstract art, joan mitchell told the story of her feelings, memories, or experiences.  stories of places, or people that she loved.  stories inspired by the arts.  stories inspired by nature.

probably the most exceptional art exhibition to take place in san francisco in years, the joan mitchell retrospective at the san francisco museum of art (sfmoma) lets the pictures tell the stories.

 

joan mitchell

san francisco museum of modern art | san francisco, ca

4 september 2021-17 january 2022

baltimore museum of art | baltimore, md

6 march 2022-14 august 2022

fondation louis vuitton | paris, france

fall 2022

joan mitchell exhibition catalog | by sarah roberts and katy siegel

photo credit sfmoma

 

new york

joan mitchell (1925-1992) | hudson river day line | oil on canvas | 1955

mcnay art museum | san antonio, tx

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

 

joan mitchell (1925-1992) | evenings on 73rd street | oil on canvas | 1957

private collection

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

 

commuting between new york and paris

 

“i wanted to be sure to reach you;

though my ship was on the way it got caught in some moorings.

i am always tying up and then deciding to depart.” 

to the harbormaster, a poem by mitchell’s friend, frank o’hara (1926-1966), 1957

joan mitchell (1925-1992) | to the harbormaster | oil on canvas | 1957

ars art lp

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

 

moving from the city (paris) to the country (vétheuil)

joan mitchell (1925-1992) | my landscape II | oil on canvas | 1967

smithsonian american art museum | washington, dc

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

 

sold for hkd 65,261,000 (over usd 8,000,000)

joan mitchell (1925-1992) | untitled | oil on canvas | circa 1967

sotheby’s | hong kong | 9 october 2021 | sale hk1141 | lot 1114

photo credit sotheby’s

 

joan mitchell (1925-1992) | russian easter | oil on canvas | 1967

private collection | liechtenstein

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

 

mitchell alternated between either acknowledging or denying the influence of impressionist painter, claude monet (1840-1926), who lived in vétheuil from 1878-1881.

joan mitchell (1925-1992) | sans neige | oil on canvas | 1969

carnegie museum of art | pittsburgh, pa

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

 

monet painted over 100 scènes de neige (snow scenes).

claude monet (1840-1926) | frost near vétheuil | oil on canvas | 1880

musee d’orsay | paris, france

photo credit art-monet.com

 

friends

feelings, memories, experiences…

joan mitchell (1925-1992) | salut tom | oil on canvas | 1979

national gallery of art | washington, dc

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

 

poetry

someone else’s feelings, memories, or experiences.

 

‘…c’est la peau du dehors qui se retourne et nous absorbe…’

(…the skin of the exterior turns inside out and absorbs us…)

la ligne de la rupture, a poem by mitchell’s friend, jacques dupin (1927-2012), 1971

joan mitchell (1925-1992) | la ligne de la rupture | oil on canvas | 1970-1971

private collection

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

 

top:  joan mitchell (1925-1992) | sorbes de la nuit d’été | pastel and ink on paper | 1975

a poem by mitchell’s friend, jacques dupin (1927-2012)

private collection

bottom:  joan mitchell (1925-1992) | blue | pastel and ink on paper | circa 1975

a poem by j j mitchell, a friend who joan mitchell met through frank o’hara (1926-1966)

the museum of modern art | new york, ny

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

 

‘we shall have everything we want and there’ll be no more dying

on the pretty plains of in the supper clubs…

ode to joy, a poem by mitchell’s friend, frank o’hara (1926-1966), 1958

 joan mitchell (1925-1992) | ode to joy (a poem by frank o’hara) | oil on canvas | circa 1970-1971

university at buffalo art galleries | buffalo, ny

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

 

nature

rejuvenation and plentitude

 joan mitchell (1925-1992) | no rain | oil on canvas | circa 1976

the museum of modern art | new york, ny

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

 

mitchell acknowledged the influences of impressionist painters, vincent van gogh (1853-1890) and paul cezanne (1839-1906), who first made an impression upon her during childhood visits to the art institute of chicago.

 vincent van gogh (1853-1890) | rain | oil on canvas | 1889

philadelphia museum of art | philadelphia, pa

photo credit philadelphia museum of art

 

 paul cezanne (1839-1906) | mont sainte-victoire seen from the bibémus quarry | oil on canvas | 1895-1899

baltimore museum of art (bma) | baltimore, md

photo credit bma

 

 joan mitchell (1925-1992) | south | oil on canvas | 1989

fondation louis vuitton | paris, france

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

 

joan mitchell (1925-1992) | before, again IV | oil on canvas | 1985

anderson collection at stanford university, california | palo alto, ca

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

 

joan mitchell (1925-1992) | marge | oil on canvas | 1990

private collection

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

 

sunlowers

joan mitchell (1925-1992) | untitled | oil on canvas | 1992

komal shah and gaurav garg collection

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

 

joan mitchell (1925-1992) | sunflower IV | oil on canvas | 1969

williams college museum of art | williamstown, ma

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

 

joan mitchell (1925-1992) | also returned | oil on canvas | 1969

private collection

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

 

i have also returned (three times) to visit and revisit the the joan mitchell retrospective.

 

one word could describe many of the award winning show gardens at the 2019 chelsea flower show:

naturalistic

 

rhs chelsea flower show

21-25 may 2019

royal hospital chelsea | london | united kingdom

the m&g garden

best show garden | gold medal winner | rhs chelsea flower show | 2019

designed by andy sturgeon | built by crocus | sponsored by m&g investments

photo credit rhs

 

the layers of naturalistic gardens could be compared to the levels of natural habitats.

family monsters garden

best artisan garden | gold medal winner | rhs chelsea flower show | 2019

designed by alistair bayford | built by idverde | sponsored by idverde family action

photo credit via rhs

 

naturalistic gardens, like the new perennial movement gardens and meadows of dutch landscape designer, piet oudolf, could also be considered eco-friendly.  and, could also be described as wild.  or, painterly.  or, dreamscapes.

country living magazine described the 2019 morgan stanley garden as:  paint[ed] with plants’.

chris beardshaw, the designer of the garden, ‘paints’ by building up layers of plants.  and, by repeating plants in three or more places.  the repetition of colors and textures creates visual connections within the garden as well as continuous circulation through out the garden.

the morgan stanley garden

gold medal winner | rhs chelsea flower show | 2019

designed by chris beardshaw | built by chris beardshaw ltd | sponsored by morgan stanley

photo credit paula mcwaters via country living

 

i am now reading ‘joan mitchell: lady painter’ after seeing joan mitchell:  i carry my landscapes around with me at david zwirner gallery in new york.

mitchell’s method was also additive.  her technique was physical.  and, she painted spontaneously.  yet, she would stop to contemplate the structure of the composition, and the relationship between the colors, before adding another layer of paint.

 

“the painting has to work,’ joan believed,

‘but it has to say something more than that the painting works.”

-from mitchell paints a picture‘, an article from artnews by irving sandler, originally published in october 1957

joan mitchell (1925-1992) | posted | 1977 | collection walker art center | minneapolis, MN

photo credit (c) estate of joan mitchell via david zwirner

 

what do you think makes a design ‘work’?

 

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

 

the most significant collection of works by richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) ever sold at auction.

 

masterpieces by richard diebenkorn

property sold to benefit the donald and barbara zucker family foundation

christie’s | new york | post-war & contemporary art evening sale & morning session | 17-18 may 2018

 

a career spanning collection of 22 paintings and works on paper.

the home of donald and barbara zucker

photo credit (c) richard diebenkorn foundation via christie’s 17 may 2018 post-war and contemporary art evening sale catalogue, p. 156

 

ocean park | paintings and works on paper

healdsburg, CA (1988-1993)

santa monica, CA  (1966-1987)

sold for US$23,937,500

the world record auction price for a painting by richard diebenkorn (1922-1993)

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | ocean park #126 | oil on canvas | 1984

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art evening sale | 17 may 2018 | sale 15968 | lot 26b

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

sold for US$3,972,500

the world record auction price for a work on paper by richard diebenkorn (1922-1993)

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | untitled | acrylic, crayon, graphite and pasted paper on joined paper | 1991

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art evening sale | 17 may 2018 | sale 15968 | lot 28b

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

sold for US$3,852,500

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | untitled | gouache, acrylic and crayon on paper | 1984

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art evening sale | 17 may 2018 | sale 15968 | lot 23b

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

sold for US$1,092,500

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | untitled | gouache, charcoal and pasted paper on joined paper | 1986

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art evening sale | 17 may 2018 | sale 15968 | lot 31b

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

sold for US$696,500

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | untitled | gouache, wax crayon and graphite on paper | 1985-1987

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art morning session | 18 may 2018 | sale 15969 | lot 619

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

sold for US$588,500

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | untitled | gouache, acrylic, charcoal, graphite and pastel on paper | 1984-1992

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art morning session | 18 may 2018 | sale 15969 | lot 624

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

sold for US$432,500

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | untitled | acrylic and charcoal on two joined sheets of paper | 1973

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art morning session | 18 may 2018 | sale 15969 | lot 626

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

sold for US$372,500

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | untitled | acrylic, gouache and charcoal on paper | 1981

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art morning session | 18 may 2018 | sale 15969 | lot 625

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

sold for US$336,500

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | untitled | watercolor, wax crayon and graphite on paper | 1988-1992

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art morning session | 18 may 2018 | sale 15969 | lot 619

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

 

also sold at sotheby’s:

property from an important new york collection

sold for US$10,953,500

richard diebenkorn (1922 – 1993) | ocean park #55 | oil and charcoal on canvas | 1972

sotheby’s | new york | contemporary art evening auction | 16 may 2018 | sale n09858 | lot 18
photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

 

representational | paintings and works on paper

landscapes | still lifes | figures

berkeley, CA (1955-1966)

sold for US$5,262,500

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | cityscape #3 | oil on canvas | 1963

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art evening sale | 17 may 2018 | sale 15968 | lot 30b

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

sold for US$852,500

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | table and folding chair | oil on canvas | 1962

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art evening sale | 17 may 2018 | sale 15968 | lot 27b

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

sold for US$106,250

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | untitled | ink, graphite and charcoal on paper | 1964

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art morning session | 18 may 2018 | sale 15969 | lot 627

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

sold for US$1,152,500

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | nude—elbow on knee | oil on canvas | 1961

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art evening sale | 17 may 2018 | sale 15968 | lot 24b

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

sold for US$432,500

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | untitled | oil on canvas | circa 1957-1962

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art evening sale | 17 may 2018 | sale 15968 | lot 29b

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

sold for US$250,000

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | portrait of n.s. | oil on canvas | 1957

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art morning session | 18 may 2018 | sale 15969 | lot 621

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

sold for US$87,500

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | untitled | watercolor and gouache on paper | 1961

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art morning session | 18 may 2018 | sale 15969 | lot 622

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

sold for US$137.500

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | untitled | ink and charcoal on paper | 1967

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art morning session | 18 may 2018 | sale 15969 | lot 623

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

 

also sold at christie’s:

property of late owners

sold for US$4,692,500

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | untitled | oil on canvas | circa 1963-1964

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art evening sale | 17 may 2018 | sale 15968 | lot 41b
photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

property from a distinguished new york collector

sold for US$100,000

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | untitled | ink and conté crayon on paper | 1962

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art morning session | 18 may 2018 | sale 15969 | lot 704
photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

 

abstract expressionist | paintings and works on paper

berkeley, CA (1953-1955)

urbana, IL (1952-1953)

albuquerque, NM (1950-1952)

sausalito, CA (1947-1949)

sold for US$1,032,500

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | berkeley #25 | oil on canvas | 1954

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art evening sale | 17 may 2018 | sale 15968 | lot 25b

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

sold for US$20,000

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | untitled (berkeley) | ink and gouache on paper | 1955

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art morning session | 18 may 2018 | sale 15969 | lot 628

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

sold for US$552,500

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | sausalito | oil on canvas | 1949

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art evening sale | 17 may 2018 | sale 15968 | lot 32b

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

 

have you ever dreamt of living with a US$46,000,000 salon-style art installation?

the home of donald and barbara zucker

photo credit (c) richard diebenkorn foundation via christie’s 17 may 2018 post-war and contemporary art evening sale catalogue, p. 157

 

sold for US$432,500

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | untitled | gouache on paper | circa 1953-1955

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art evening sale | 17 may 2018 | sale 15968 | lot 21b

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

sold for US$468,500

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | untitled | gouache and charcoal on paper | circa 1957-1966

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art evening sale | 17 may 2018 | sale 15968 | lot 22b

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

manuel neri:  assertion of the figure

anderson collection at stanford university | palo alto, CA

14 september 2017-12 february 2018

an art exhibition that includes eleven sculptures, reliefs, and works on paper by (san francisco) bay area figurative sculptor manuel neri.  recently gifted to the anderson collection (art museum) at stanford university by the manuel neri trust.

top to bottom:

manuel neri | standing figure I | pigment on plaster | 1974 | courtesy of hackett | mill and the manuel neri trust, san francisco, CA

manuel neri | standing figure II | pigment on plaster | 1982

 

isn’t the juxtaposition of the manuel neri sculptures with figurative, abstract, and abstract expressionist paintings by richard deibenkorn (another member of the bay area figurative art movement) and joan mitchell outstanding?

top (left to right):

richard deibenkorn (1922-1993) | girl on the beach | oil on canvas | 1957

manuel neri | untitled female figure | plaster and pigment | 1958 | courtesy of hackett | mill and the manuel neri trust, san francisco, CA

manuel neri | untitled male figure | plaster and pigment | 1958 | courtesy of hackett | mill and the manuel neri trust, san francisco, CA

richard deibenkorn (1922-1993) | ocean park #60 | oil on canvas | 1973

bottom (left to right):

joan mitchell | before, again IV | oil on canvas | 1985

manuel neri | untitled female figure | plaster and pigment | 1958 | courtesy of hackett | mill and the manuel neri trust, san francisco, CA

manuel neri | untitled male figure | plaster and pigment | 1958 | courtesy of hackett | mill and the manuel neri trust, san francisco, CA

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

 

during the exhibition, seven additional sculptures by manuel neri, which are on temporary loan to the anderson collection from hackett | mill art gallery in san francisco, are installed outside of the museum.  their adjacency to the rodin sculpture garden at the cantor arts center at stanford university, which is located next door, is equally outstanding.