Joan Mitchell: Lady Painter Review

Joan Mitchell: Lady Painter
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Joan Mitchell: Lady Painter ReviewAs a fan of JM's paintings,it was fun to read the soap-opera version of her bio.
She was definitely a head case. Could she have been even better if she wasn't so conflicted and alcoholic. Her versions of the substance of her paintings are all over the place.
The author did great research and provided source material. There probably were a lot of JM's acquaintences who were eager to give their perception or anecdotes of what happened. It's not easy or fun being around an alcoholic in my experience.
Things that annoyed me about the book were:
1. Extensive description of certain paintings which are not shown in the book (or even in the Livingston book).
2. The painting which are shown don't have any size listed.
3. Numerous events are described with a month and day date but no year; e.g., Franz Klines death.
Other things:
1. It's interesting that I or my painter friends have never heard of Jean-Paul Riopelle (JM's partner for several years) as Canada's most famous artist. I subscribe to Art Forum and read Art News and surf the web, and have never come across his name, until now. I like some of his paintings I found on the internet; especially one that is Joan-Mitchell like. I don't think they allow links here, but it's a layered abstract with black, viney leaves on top of yellow viney leaves with a white background (coloured ink on paper, 18 x 24~.). It's at . One would think that he would get some mention in the U.S. media.
2. With the artworld having expanded out geographically from NYC, do artists have fraternal or intimate connections now as JM and her milieu did?
3. The term abstract impressionism certainly applies in JM's later paintings at La Tour in Vetheuil.
I hadn't thought of them in that way before.
--That's all for now.
Joan Mitchell: Lady Painter Overview"Gee, Joan, if only you were French and male and dead." —New York art dealer to Joan Mitchell, the 1950sShe was a steel heiress from the Midwest—Chicago and Lake Forest (her grandfather built Chicago's bridges and worked for Andrew Carnegie). She was a daughter of the American Revolution—Anglo-Saxon, Republican, Episcopalian. She was tough, disciplined, courageous, dazzling, and went up against the masculine art world at its most entrenched, made her way in it, and disproved their notion that women couldn't paint.Joan Mitchell is the first full-scale biography of the abstract expressionist painter who came of age in the 1950s, '60s, and '70s; a portrait of an outrageous artist and her struggling artist world, painters making their way in the second part of America's twentieth century. As a young girl she was a champion figure skater, and though she lacked balance and coordination, accomplished one athletic triumph after another, until giving up competitive skating to become a painter. Mitchell saw people and things in color; color and emotion were the same to her. She said, "I use the past to make my pic[tures] and I want all of it and even you and me in candlelight on the train and every ‘lover' I've ever had—every friend—nothing closed out. It's all part of me and I want to confront it and sleep with it—the dreams—and paint it."Her work had an unerring sense of formal rectitude, daring, and discipline, as well as delicacy, grace, and awkwardness.Mitchell exuded a young, smoky, tough glamour and was thought of as "sexy as hell."Albers writes about how Mitchell married her girlhood pal, Barnet Rosset, Jr.—scion of a financier who was head of Chicago's Metropolitan Trust and partner of Jimmy Roosevelt. Rosset went on to buy Grove Press in 1951, at Mitchell's urging, and to publish Henry Miller, Samuel Beckett, Jean Genet, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, et al., making Grove into the great avant-garde publishing house of its time. Mitchell's life was messy and reckless: in New York and East Hampton carousing with de Kooning, Frank O'Hara, James Schuyler, Jane Freilicher, Franz Kline, Helen Frankenthaler, and others; going to clambakes, cocktail parties, softball games—and living an entirely different existence in Paris and Vétheuil.Mitchell's inner life embraced a world beyond her own craft, especially literature . . . her compositions were informed by imagined landscapes or feelings about places. In Joan Mitchell, Patricia Albers brilliantly reconstructs the painter's large and impassioned life: her growing prominence as an artist; her marriage and affairs; her friendships with poets and painters; her extraordinary work. Joan Mitchell re-creates the times, the people, and her worlds from the 1920s through the 1990s and brings it all spectacularly to life.

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