Daily Art Moment: Joan Mitchell

Image description: Joan Mitchell, Soldats des bois, 1956, oil on canvas, 71 ¾ x 77 ½ inches. Large, square, abstract expressionist painting comprised of whiplash gestural lines of colored paint that swarm and recede in and out against an expansive white background.The lines seem to document a controlled chaos of fast movement and are comprised of vibrant streaks of cadmium red, Prussian blue, cyan, yellow, and black, unevenly applied while pushed across the canvas with a paint brush.
Joan Mitchell (American 1925–1992), “Soldats des Bois,” 1956, oil on canvas. Private Collection, L2021.46

“Abstract is not a style. I simply want to make a surface work.”

Joan Mitchell

Mitchell is one of the foremost painters of Abstract Expressionism. In the 1950s, she lived between New York and Paris, where she developed a unique approach that set her work apart from the “all over” paintings of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and others. Mitchell looked to nature, people, and moments in time to inspire her choices of color and form, titling works after her experiences and memories (the French “soldats de bois” means wooden soldiers). Distinctively, she shaped her compositions through strong, gestural brushstrokes, called “whiplash lines,” that generate a sense of dimension and energy concentrated in the center of the painting. Visitors have the opportunity to see this stunning painting, now on view in the Jubitz Center for Modern and Contemporary Art, 1st floor gallery for a year.

Sara Krajewski, The Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art

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