bregenz

View of “Joan Mitchell Retrospective: Her Life and Paintings,” 2015. From left: Bonhomme de Bois, 1961–62; Untitled, 1964; Untitled (Cheim Some Bells), 1964; The sky is blue, the grass is green, 1972 (panels reversed in installation); Closed Territory, 1973. Photo: Markus Tretter. © Joan Mitchell Foundation.

Joan Mitchell

Kunsthaus Bregenz

View of “Joan Mitchell Retrospective: Her Life and Paintings,” 2015. From left: Bonhomme de Bois, 1961–62; Untitled, 1964; Untitled (Cheim Some Bells), 1964; The sky is blue, the grass is green, 1972 (panels reversed in installation); Closed Territory, 1973. Photo: Markus Tretter. © Joan Mitchell Foundation.

GESTURE, LIKE EMOTION (or affect, easier to swallow for some reason), is back, but we’re not much better at talking about it than we were in previous go-rounds with AbEx, Informel, etc. We still discriminate too strongly between broad categories such as abstraction and figuration, male and female, first and second generation, but fail to distinguish finely the touch and speed and scale of gestures: licks, drags, pats and pokes, strokes, skitters, pushes, sharp right turns. These marks correspond to, or rather just are, feeling: feeling not as emotion alone, transcribed on canvas, but as a state of being alive, as Joan Mitchell told Yves Michaudin a 1986 interview reproduced in the catalogue for this traveling retrospective curated by Yilmaz Dziewior and Rudolf Sagmeister. Feeling that embraces image (yellow curtains, blue sky over Lake Michigan, a tree in the countryside), physical

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