Joan Mitchell (1925–1992) was one of the most significant painters to emerge from Abstract Expressionism, a movement in American art in the mid-twentieth century which includes few female proponents. Steeped in literature and the arts as a youth in Chicago, Mitchell moved to New York in 1950, where she soon became ensconced in the Greenwich Village art scene, associating with established painters of the New York School such as Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, and Philip Guston as well as poets Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, and others.
"It’s hard to figure out why it comes together or what I’m painting about. What is there exactly that makes it work?"
With her bold, gestural canvases and fiercely independent attitude, Mitchell quickly made an impact as one of the so-called second-generation of Abstract Expressionists. Though her paintings shared the scale, exploded composition, and pure color associated with the period, Mitchell also had an abiding passion for the landscape. She devoted her artistic life to making resolutely abstract works that were her own reflections on the natural world, drawing inspiration as much from early modernists such as Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, and Vincent van Gogh as from her predecessors of the New York School.