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    Joan Mitchell, 'Sunflowers II', Lot 23

    Editions & Works On Paper, 25 October

  • Catalogue Essay

    Belonging to the Post-War, New York School of Action painters, Joan Mitchell distinguished herself amongst her contemporaries as an accomplished printmaker.

    Joan Mitchell made prints throughout almost every stage of her career up until her death. With Tyler Graphics and its founder Kenneth Tyler in the early 1990’s, Mitchell embarked on the most innovative and ambitious prints of her oeuvre. Kenneth Tyler first persuaded Joan Mitchell to make lithographs with him in the early 1980's, urging that her paintings could be translated beautifully into lithography. She completed her first suite of lithographs with Tyler in 1981, titled the Bedford Series, and thereafter a fruitful relationship was born.

    The lithographs of the Bedford Series (lot 210), 1981, and later Sunflower Series (lot 23), 1992, embrace the very nature of the medium. The greasiness, oiliness, and rubbings of lithographic crayon and tusche become as much the subject of these works as her gestural brushstrokes embody the emotional resonance of her paintings.

    Sunflowers II, from the Sunflower Series, presents a pictorial achievement in Mitchell’s oeuvre. Here, Mitchell combined deep rich tones with gestural marks that greatly echo the ethos of her career. Through color and line, disordered bouquets of sunflowers appear and again disappear to the viewer. Joan Mitchell’s electric gestural prints were deliberate and considered. She worked on clear mylar sheets of color separation, revising until the composition was as she wanted. In Sunflowers II, Mitchell’s explosive mark-making meets the ethereal quality of paper, creating prints that are at once free-flowing while contained within the margins.

    Tyler Graphics allowed Mitchell to work in more colors than ever before, creating richly colored works that rivaled the more subdued hues of the prints she had produced in years before. Tyler was flexible, and Mitchell precise: “Ken,” she said to him in the studio, “I want to try a color like the color of dying sunflowers.”

  • Artist Biography

    Joan Mitchell

    Known for her highly emotive gestural abstraction, Joan Mitchell was one of the most prominent members of the second generation of Abstract Expressionists. Mitchell painted highly structured, large-scale compositions featuring vibrant, violent bursts of color and light, often influenced by landscape painting and informed by her emotional understanding of the world around her. Mitchell was one of the only female artists of her generation to achieve critical and public acclaim, and her work was featured in the famous Ninth Street Show of 1951, which introduced the world to the emerging American avant-garde. 

    Mitchell was a devoted student of art as well as a talented painter; she developed an intimate understanding of color through her admiration of the work of Henri Matisse and Vincent van Gogh and adapted the gestural abstraction of her day to create an art form completely her own, and continued her investigation of abstraction for the rest of her career. Her work has influenced subsequent generations of artists and is featured in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Tate Modern, and many of the world’s most distinguished institutions. 

     
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23

Sunflowers II

1992
Lithograph in colors, on two sheets of wove paper (as issued), the full sheets.
overall S. 57 x 82 1/2 in. (144.8 x 209.6 cm)
Signed, dated and numbered 24/34 in pencil (there were also 8 artist's proofs), published by Tyler Graphics, Mount Kisco, New York, (with their blindstamp), framed.

Estimate
$30,000 - 50,000 

Sold for $106,250

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Evening & Day Editions

New York Auction 25 October 2019