Joan Mitchell, Untitled, 1964, oil on canvas, 108 × 79 5/8".

Joan Mitchell

Cheim & Read

Joan Mitchell, Untitled, 1964, oil on canvas, 108 × 79 5/8".

It’s difficult to ever view a Joan Mitchell painting as pure abstraction. Her famously synesthetic approach to landscape and figure gives her works—whether a small drawing or a diptych that fills a wall—a gravity. They are environments.

This compact show touched on the long arc of Mitchell’s career, from her early, calligraphic slashes in the 1950s, when she was painting in a studio off St. Marks Place in New York and drinking with the AbEx boys, through her time in Paris in the ’60s, and, until her death in 1992, in the French countryside at an estate with an overgrown garden and a cottage where Monet once lived.

For all her triumphant fireworks of blue and green, Mitchell was not afraid to make ugly works. One of the first paintings that greeted you in the main gallery was Untitled, 1960, which looks like someone’s palette after a rough night, with muddy mixtures of

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.