Inspiring women: Joan Mitchell

Joan Mitchell's approach to her abstract expressionist works set her apart from the brooding machismo of deKooning or Rothko (artistso I also love).

While they were primarily introspective, Mitchell's work is more sensitive to her surroundings and the outer world. It poses an interesting question about the difference between a masculine and feminine approach (one that I don't think is necessarily demarcated down gender lines).


Mitchell dropped out of art school and travelled to Europe. Within years she had established herself as a leading artist and married Barney Rosset (who was Beckett's American publisher) and Beckett and Mitchell were also close. Later, she married Jean-Paul Riopelle (a favourite Canadian artist).

I'm normally not interested in the social mores of my inspiring women, but of course anything that touches on Beckett's life interests me. More than that though, I tend to visualize artists as islands and it's good reminder that a creative group of people can fuel and inspire each other.

In her later work, Mitchell's canvases became darker, more dense with paint and primordial in their expression. But it's her bright, early work that appeals to me most. Mitchell died in 1992 near Giverny France.

The Joan Mitchell Foundation
Film: Joan Mitchell: Portrait of An Abstract Painter
Book: The Paintings of Joan Mitchell

Image credits: Untitled from Sunflower Series via Photo of Joan Mitchell via Hausert & Wirth Gallery, Art House Films Online.
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