new-york

Joan Mitchell, Clearing, 1973, oil on canvas, triptych, 9' 2 1/4“ x 19' 8”.

Joan Mitchell

Whitney Museum of American Art

Joan Mitchell dismissed her works on paper—even painting-scale pastels of four-foot dimensions—as “lady paintings.” Keeping faith with her subject, Jane Livingston, the guest curator of the Whitney’s Mitchell exhibition, created a retrospective exclusively composed of works in oil on canvas. The survey features fifty-nine paintings, of which thirty-eight are big and another fifteen are very big. There are only six small, easel-scale works, which is too bad because at least two or three of these are as good as anything else in the show.

Casual visitors to the Mitchell exhibition were overheard admiring the color and energy they saw in the work. More seasoned viewers may be challenged to find Mitchell in the paintings, where she can be camouflaged in the distinctive stylistic imprints of her Abstract Expressionist predecessors and “second generation” contemporaries. Everywhere you look you

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