Lot 122
  • 122

Joan Mitchell

1,000,000 - 1,500,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Joan Mitchell
  • Some More
  • signed; titled and dated 1980 on the stretcher of each panel; each inscribed a, b, c respectively on the reverse
  • oil on canvas, in 3 parts
  • Overall: 51 by 114 in. 129.5 by 289.6 cm.


Xavier Fourcade, Inc., New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above in March 1981


New York, Xavier Fourcade, Inc., Joan Mitchell - New Paintings, February - March 1981

Catalogue Note

After spending the greater portion of the 1960’s in Paris, Mitchell packed up and left her urban life for the rural setting of Vétheuil with fellow artist and lover Jean-Paul Riopelle. In this new environment, Mitchell drew great inspiration from the landscape around her. She planted rows of sunflowers, her favorite flower, in her garden and began a two-decade long meditation on the motif. Sunflowers became an iconic staple of Mitchell’s late work and inspired some of the most beloved and alluring paintings of her career. Art Historian Jane Livingston writes that the sunflower paintings “embody Mitchell’s final synthesis of her decades of excruciatingly hard-won expertise as a painter. She achieves an explication of all she has mastered in [an] intricate, ornate, recalcitrant style.” (Jane Livingston, The Paintings of Joan Mitchell, 2002, p. 44) Mitchell seemed to find a new degree of clarity, order and contentment in Vétheuil that was missing from her years in Paris, which were marked by recurring depression. Life for Mitchell was not wholly idyllic in her new surroundings, however, as Riopelle left her for another woman in 1979. Mitchell suffered profoundly from this loss, and her mental stability wavered frequently. Still, she found solace in her work in these years and subsequently produced some of the most vibrantly colored, sumptuously textured, and harmoniously composed canvases of her career.

Some More from 1980 is a visually arresting, large-format example from the Sunflowers series. Lush layers of blue, orange, yellow, green and black impasto lend a rich, thick texture to the triptych’s surface. Splashes of blue appear to peek out from under the tangled web of yellow paint, like a river just barely visible behind a field of sunflowers. The gradient tones and highlights of color recall sunlight shimmering on flower petals and water, and spots of thick black paint dot the three canvases, interrupting the bright, joyful rhythm of the vivid yellow paint and creating a slight ominous vibe to the work. Unlike her earlier technique of sweeping long gestural strokes across the canvas, here Mitchell dots the canvases with shorter brushstrokes, creating a lattice-like interpenetration of line and color.

Though it is clear that Mitchell drew inspiration for this work from her garden at Vétheuil, her objective for this and all of the Sunflower paintings was not to represent the flowers literally; rather, she aimed to evoke a feeling or memory and to convey her specific emotions of that place and time. Mitchell mused, “I paint from remembered landscapes that I carry with me – and remembered feelings of them, which of course become transformed. I could certainly never mirror nature, I would like more to paint what it leaves me.” Indeed, the abstracted forms and painterly technique in Some More seems to emulate the hazy quality of a memory or an impression.


Known for admiring the work of Vincent Van Gogh, Mitchell drew inspiration for her Sunflowers series from the post-Impressionist master’s depictions of sunflowers. Van Gogh’s 1888 Sunflowers depicts a vase of sunflowers in a mélange of thick, mustard yellow paint against a yellow background and table. For Van Gogh, sunflower still life paintings represented his alter ego, a kind of self-portrait lacking his own likeness. Perhaps Mitchell too saw herself reflected in the sunflower’s image: alive, but vulnerable to external forces, light and darkness, sunshine and rain, growth and death. Even though the two artists lived 100 years apart, many parallels can be drawn between them, both in their art and personal melancholia. Mitchell was particularly enthralled with Van Gogh’s 1890 masterpiece, Wheatfield with Crows, which is believed to have inspired much of Mitchell’s late work. The horizontality and landscape genre of Wheatfield with Crows appears to be mirrored in Some More. The color palettes are strikingly similar, even the spots of black in Mitchell’s triptych seem to echo the subtle crow silhouettes in Van Gogh’s work.


As Mitchell approached the last decade of her life in a new setting, she created some of the most lyrical and stunning compositions of her entire oeuvre. Paintings from her Sunflowers series are universally regarded as some of her most beautiful and desirable works, and Some More from 1980 is no exception. Even through personal and professional change, Mitchell’s unwavering exploration of nature, in particular her beloved sunflowers, provided a constant sense of rejuvenation and joy, which is wholly palpable in the luscious and lively Some More.