Friday, 30 July 2010

Joan Mitchell at Inverleith House

Inverleith House is presenting the first museum exhibition in the UK devoted to the artist Joan Mitchell (1925-1992) - one of the most important and singular American painters of the post war period, whose work is gaining increasing recognition today.
Mitchell studied at The Art Institute of Chicago before moving to New York in the late 1940s where she became the youngest member of the Abstract Expressionist movement, enjoying the support of artists such as Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline. In 1959 she left the United States and moved to France, where she lived and worked for the rest of her life. There, she developed a highly personal painterly style - synthesizing an Abstract Expressionist tendency with the traditions of high European painting. In the colour, brushwork, and structure of her paintings one finds affinities with Paul Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh, and Henri Matisse.
The exhibition comprises seven paintings on canvas and five works on paper, (from public and private collections in Europe and America) made throughout the artist's career and it considers Mitchell's work in light of her love of nature and poetry. A poet's painter, Mitchell was a lifelong reader of William Wordsworth, John Clare, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Wallace Stevens, and Rainer Maria Rilke. During her time in New York she befriended key figures of the then-emerging New York School of poetry (James Schuyler, Frank O'Hara, and John Ashbery), while in France she came to know Samuel Beckett and Jacques Dupin. Like these writers, Mitchell expresses through her painting a complex interplay of emotion, memory, and sense of place.

It has been selected by New York-based writer and curator Philip Larratt-Smith and is presented in association with the Joan Mitchell Foundation, New York.and the help of Cheim & Read Gallery, New York and Hauser & Wirth, Zürich.

Joan Mitchell Untitled 1958 Oil on canvas
Estate of Joan Mitchell. Courtesy Joan Mitchell Foundation and Cheim & Read Gallery, New York.
Photograph: Ruth Clark, © RBGE 2010.
There is an illustrated publication will be produced from the exhibition, containing an essay by Philip Larratt-Smith and interviews with the American poet John Ashbery, writer Paul Auster, and sculptor Lynda Benglis but I couldn't find it on their website.
Paul Nesbitt, the curator has put together an elegant programme that includes  John McCracken, Richard Hamilton, William Eggleston, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Cy Twombly, Franz West, Ed Ruscha, Lawrence Weiner, Agnes Martin and Carl Andre. Inverleith House was formerly the founding home of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (1960 to 1984).


  1. Joan Mitchell in the UK! Excellent! Why has'nt the Tate done a big show?..

  2. bonjour à Vous, Superbe article, mais je suis là de mauvaise foi, j'ai une trop grande sympathie pour l'artiste ! John Ashebery est une merveille aussi, thibault

  3. The FT's article: in which Mitchell's French influences are given for a reason she hasn't been more widely hailed in America.

  4. Bonjour à Vous, de nombreux abstraits français ont connu ou connaissent la même mésaventure dans l'autre sens,pour avoir aimé la peinture américaine; ces querelles hégémoniques n'étaient pas liées qu'à l'Art,n'est ce pas ? mais Vous le savez sûrement mieux que moi :-) un de ces peintres qui en a le plus souffert fut Gustave Singier (1909-1984); je vous renouvelle toute ma sympathie pour vos idées et votre blog,à bientôt Thibault

  5. Vous avez raison. Il se produit toute l'heure que des artistes sont manqués dehors parce que leurs sympathies ne sont pas alignées avec le mouvement de leurs propres pays. Je suis étonné que vous vous sentez que ceci est arrivé à Singier comme je l'ai toujours associé à un lyrisme européen et pas pour avoir des affinités américaines. Comme si pour prouver votre point nous avons différentes réponses à son travail de différents mercis de pays… encore de votre appréciation continue.

    You are right. It happens all the time that artists are missed out because their sympathies are not aligned with the movement of their own countries. I am surprised that you feel this happened to Singier as I have always associated him with a European lyricism and not for having American affinities. As if to prove your point we have different responses to his work from different countries...Thanks again for your continuing appreciation.

  6. Vous faites bien de rectifier et je vous en remercie,l'exemple que j'ai pris est plus que discutable,je voulais dire qu'on lui reprochait la curiosité que lui portaient des collectionneurs américains; merci

  7. Un bon point de Thige! Nous pensons qu'il ya beaucoup de peintres abstraits en Angleterre, qui aurait dû être plus importante au cours de leur durée de vie, mais parce qu'ils trop regardé l'Amérique et l'expressionnisme abstrait, ils ne sont pas prises au sérieux par les critiques très insulaire de l'époque qui ont été champions de l'art figuratif , même dans les années soixante ..

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