National Museum of Women in the Arts
Joan Mitchell
February 21 1925 - October 30 1992
Photograph of Joan Mitchell, 1981, by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, courtesy of the photographer.
Place of Birth:
Phonetic Spelling:
joh-n MIH-chuhl
Minority status:
White non-Hispanic
Work Type/Media:
Drawings and prints, Painting
Artistic Role(s):
Painter, Pastelist, Printmaker
Abstract Expressionism
Artist's Biography:
One of the most important members of Abstract Expressionism’s second generation, Joan Mitchell executed large paintings full of energy and tension. Instead of pure abstraction, however, Mitchell concentrated on highly stylized representations of landscapes.

Mitchell was born in Chicago, where she began taking art classes in second grade. Influenced by her mother’s work as coeditor of Poetry magazine and the authors who came to visit, including T.S. Eliot and Dylan Thomas, Mitchell first considered a career in writing, studying English literature at Smith College. Soon after, she decided to become a professional painter instead and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the School of The Art Institute of Chicago.

In 1950, Mitchell moved to New York and began exhibiting her work to considerable acclaim at a time when Abstract Expressionism was the principal avant-garde painting style. Despite her growing success as a member of the so-called New York School, the artist began spending time in France, where she had gone in 1948 on a year-long scholarship.

After nine years in Paris, Mitchell moved to a country house in Vétheuil in 1968. She continued making large, multipart canvases, had several major retrospectives of her work, and received three honorary doctorates. In 1982, Mitchell became the first American woman to have a solo exhibition at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.

Place(s) of Residence:
New York
Where Trained/Schools:
Columbia University, New York, NY, USA (1950) School of The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA (1948-1950, 1944-1947) Smith College, Northampton, MA, USA (1942-1944)
Related Visual Artists:
student of Robert von Neumann student of Louis Ritman assistant of Hans Hofmann partner of Jean-Paul Riopelle friend of Willem de Kooning friend of Franz Kline friend of Frank O'Hara
Fellowships, grants and awards:
Honorary Doctorate, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI, USA (1992) Grand Prix des Arts Plastiques de la Ville de Paris, Paris, France (1991) Edward L. Ryerson Fellowship, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA (1948-1949)
Earliest exhibition:
Joan Mitchell, New Gallery, New York, NY, USA (1952)
NMWA exhibition(s):
Four Centuries of Women's Art: The National Museum of Women in the Arts
Presswork: The Art of Women Printmakers
Artist retrospective(s):
The Paintings of Joan Mitchell, The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, USA (2002) Joan Mitchell: Les Dernières Années, 1983-1992, Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris, France (1994), & Joan Mitchell: Oeuvres de 1951 à 1982, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes, Nantes, France (1994) Joan Mitchell Prints and Illustrated Books: A Retrospective Susan Sheehan Gallery, New York, NY, USA (1993)
Related places
Paris (died at)
Sale Neige