Joan Mitchell - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Sunday, November 8, 2015 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Galerie Jean Fournier, Paris
    Private Collection, Paris (1991)
    Solomon & Company, New York
    Cheim & Read, New York
    Acquired by the present owner from the above in 2001

  • Catalogue Essay

    "I paint from remembered landscapes that I carry with me--and remember feelings of them, which of course become transformed. I could certainly never mirror nature. I would like more to paint what it leaves me with." Joan Mitchell, 1968

    Joan Mitchell’s powerful and agile brushstrokes are undeniably recognizable and the present lot Untitled, 1975 is no exception. Untitled encompasses a sense of reckless vulnerability through the turbulent, haphazard brushstrokes. Executed in 1975, the present lot was created amidst the final stages of her long and tumultuous relationship with artist, Jean-Paul Riopelle. The thinly layered brushstrokes of periwinkle blue contrast distinctly with the dense areas of pitch black oil paint floating atop a stark white canvas background. The present lot was created after a period spent with Riopelle in his mountain village home of Sainte-Marguerite-de-Lac-Masson, north of Montreal in the winter of 1974. Staying at his picturesque home and studio aside a lake, Mitchell was entranced by the natural scene. The fresh air and tall pines trees of this stunning natural setting were used by Joan, as she describes, “for enormous protection from people who were hurting me.” While freed by the sense of open space, her relationship with Riopelle began to crumble. Feeling the distance growing between them, Joan’s frustration over the natural deterioration of their romance could only be remedied through her paint brush. "As delectable as they are raw," Mitchell's biographer Patricia Albers remarks, "her paintings court chaos with their sweeps of disrupted syntax, surpassing the viewer's ability to process them in a conscious way….. colors she used over and over again-well up into patchy cumuli suspended in thinned whitish washes agitated by wisps, Xs, tattings and cascading drips of pigment. Everything about these luscious chromatic canvases speaks of the artist's all-consuming lover's quarrel with oils. Paint meets canvas in every conceivable manner: slathered, swiped, dry-brushed, splattered, dribbled, wiped with tags into filminess, smeared with fingers, slapped from a brush, smashed from the tube, affixed like a wad of gum--a glorious, visual glossolalia." (P. Albers, Joan Mitchell: Lady Painter, New York, 2011, pp. 286-287)

    The twisting marks, vertical lines and quiet brushstrokes expose vast swathes of white paint within the present lot. The dark mass comprised of vertical, black brushstrokes at the lower left of the composition sits firmly, like the trunk of a tree. The tree, for Joan, has remained an important compositional focus of her paintings including her earlier 1960s cypress series while her paintings of the mid 1970s often allude to a solemn tree within a vast landscape. This deeply felt isolation echoes Joan’s own feeling of abandonment by Jean-Paul while simultaneously offering her the natural freedom she has always desired both personally and within the confines of her canvases.

Property from the Collection of Ceil and Michael Pulitzer, Santa Barbara



oil on canvas
76 3/4 x 44 3/4 in. (194.9 x 113.7 cm)
Signed "Joan Mitchell" lower right.

$1,200,000 - 1,800,000 

Sold for $1,925,000

Contact Specialist
Kate Bryan
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+ 1 212 940 1267

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 8 November 2015 7pm