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Abstract Expressionist Joan Mitchell Subject of Three-Part Exhibition
Joan Mitchell, Untitled, 1957. Oil on paper, 19 1/2 x 17 1/2 in., 49.5 x 44.5 cm. ©Estate of Joan Mitchell. Courtesy Joan Mitchell Foundation and Cheim & Read Gallery, New York.

NEW ORLEANS, LA.- The Newcomb Art Gallery at Tulane University presents Joan Mitchell in New Orleans, on view March 31 - June 30, 2010.

Organized in collaboration with the Joan Mitchell Foundation and Cheim & Read Gallery, New York, the three-part exhibition brings together the major bodies of the artist’s work: works on paper at the Newcomb Art Gallery, paintings at the New Orleans Museum of Art, and prints at the Contemporary Arts Center.

The Newcomb Art Gallery show is a comprehensive survey of Joan Mitchell’s works on paper created over a 30-year period and focuses on the artist’s bold work in pastel. The show also includes examples of other media, such as watercolor and oil paint, and offers a rare chance to view the artist's archival sketchbooks containing unframed pastel studies from the late sixties and late eighties.

Concurrently, the New Orleans Museum of Art will host an exhibition of Joan Mitchell’s paintings, including a major twenty-foot, four panel work. Prints spanning nearly 40 years, representing her individual work as well as her collaborations with poets, and two paintings that relate to her print work, will comprise the Contemporary Arts Center show.

“The exhibitions give local audiences a unique opportunity to see three different techniques employed by Joan Mitchell over the course of her career,” noted Carolyn Somers, Executive Director of the Joan Mitchell Foundation. “More importantly, they share with the community the very work that has allowed the Foundation to realize its mission of providing support to contemporary painters and sculptors.”

Borne out of Mitchell’s own commitment to assisting artists, such activities have included the New Orleans Career-Opportunity Grant program, which was established following Hurricane Katrina. The program has given Gulf Coast area artists assistance toward taking advantage of locally based opportunities that could have a significant impact on their artistic careers. Somers notes that through the Joan Mitchell in New Orleans exhibitions, “The Foundation has been able to reconnect with many of the local artists that we’ve worked with during the last three years.”

Born in 1925, Mitchell was one of a handful of successful female painters of her generation. Known for formally abstract, expressionistic paintings, she explored the effects of line, color and light while creating works saturated with energy and emotion.

After studying at the Art Institute of Chicago, where she received an M.A. degree in 1947, Mitchell moved to New York City. There she exhibited in the renowned and historically significant Ninth Street Show in the early summer months of 1951, and had her first solo exhibition at the New Gallery in 1952.

Though influenced by the slightly older and trailblazing abstract investigations of Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock and Franz Kline, Mitchell was connected to her generation’s response to and redirection of gestural abstraction. Sparked by elements and colors found in her surroundings, Mitchell’s works are charged with a concentrated reaction to her natural and emotional environment.

Mitchell lived in Vétheuil, France for the last three decades of her life, and died in Paris in 1992 at age 67. Inspired by a deep connection to her surroundings and the specific light and feeling of a place, and determined by a profound awareness of her emotional landscape, Mitchell’s works resonate with the intensity, power and limitations of an individual while referencing the timelessness, formlessness, and stillness of the natural environment.

Recently, the United States Postal Service recognized Mitchell in a souvenir sheet of 44–cent, “Abstract Expressionists” commemorative stamps, which included her La Grande Vallée 0 (1983). Of the ten artists honored, Mitchell is the only woman, thus underscoring her singular contributions to 20th-century American art.

The Newcomb Art Gallery | Joan Mitchell | Carolyn Somers |

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