JOAN MITCHELL: WORKS ON PAPER 1956-1992, text by John Yau
Steidl/Cheim & Read Gallery, 2007, First edition, 160 pp., 10" X 13", Hardcover
Painter Joan Mitchell was never content to compose "easy" abstractions, preferring to challenge both herself and the viewer with works that pushed the limits of her own sense of beauty. As an Abstract Expressionist, she worked in an idiom that was well established when she began, and curator Klaus Kertess has usefully compared her achievement to that of Soutine and late Bonnard, also artists who did not "innovate" formally but built their achievement by exploring an existing painterly language for their own more intimate purposes. As the critic Jed Perl once wrote of her paintings: "The best Mitchells are authentically civilized experiences. Our appetites are focused and clarified."
This volume is the first comprehensive presentation of the artist's works on paper--which Mitchell once curtly characterized as "lady paintings." That comment surely had to do with her generation's censure of prettiness--however, contemporary viewers are now free to enjoy the delights of this buoyant and lively body of work.