new-york

Joan Mitchell, Trees, 1990–91, diptych, oil on canvas, overall 7' 2 3/4“ x 13' 1 1/2”.

Joan Mitchell

Cheim & Read

Joan Mitchell, Trees, 1990–91, diptych, oil on canvas, overall 7' 2 3/4“ x 13' 1 1/2”.

The Abstract Expressionists were known for their energy, and in Joan Mitchell’s last paintings—a selection dating from 1985 to 1992 were on view at Cheim & Read—that energy didn’t flag; in fact, it grew ever stronger. In River, 1989, and Trees, 1990–91, for example, Mitchell’s gestures are breezier, more free-spirited and responsive to nature than those in her earlier work. One can sense the sparkling flow of the water and the wind between the branches—the aliveness of nature. (An artist’s late style need not be redundant, as seems to be the case, for instance, with de Kooning.) The paintings in the show were made shortly before her death in 1992, but there is nothing mournful about them; rather, they evince elation, a joie de vivre. Mitchell claimed that the blossoms in the two canvsases titled Sunflowers, 1990–91, may be dying—she was too, from cancer—but

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