147
147

THREE DECADES OF AMERICAN ABSTRACTION: PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT AMERICAN COLLECTION

Joan Mitchell
ANOTHER
Estimate
1,800,0002,500,000
LOT SOLD. 2,652,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT
147

THREE DECADES OF AMERICAN ABSTRACTION: PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT AMERICAN COLLECTION

Joan Mitchell
ANOTHER
Estimate
1,800,0002,500,000
LOT SOLD. 2,652,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Day Auction

|
New York

Joan Mitchell
1925 - 1992
ANOTHER
signed
oil on canvas
86 7/8 by 70 3/4 in. 220.7 by 179.7 cm.
Executed in 1980.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Xavier Fourcade, Inc., New York
Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert H. Kinney, New York (acquired from the above in 1981)
Christie's, New York, 8 May 1990, Lot 449
Private Collection, U.S.A. (acquired from the above sale)
Thence by descent to the present owner

Exhibited

New York, Xavier Fourcade, Inc., Joan Mitchell, February - March 1981
Paris, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Joan Mitchell: Choix de Peintures 1970-1982, June - September 1982, n.p., illustrated in color
Washington, D.C., The Corcoran Gallery of Art; San Francisco Museum of Art; Buffalo, Albright-Knox Art Gallery; La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art; Ithaca, Cornell University, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Joan Mitchell: 36 Years of Natural Expressionism, February 1988 - April 1989, cat. no. 39, p. 162, illustrated

Literature

David Newman, "Joan Mitchell," Arts Magazine, February 1981, p. 30, illustrated
Judith E. Bernstock, Joan Mitchell, New York 1988, p. 162, illustrated in color 
Michel Waldberg, Joan Mitchell, Paris 1992, p. 153, illustrated in color
Klaus Kertess, Joan Mitchell, New York 1997, cat. no. 72, illustrated in color

Catalogue Note

Held in the same private collection for almost thirty years, Joan Mitchell’s Another is a paramount example of a tremendous stylistic change that took place in the artist’s work beginning in 1980—the year it was painted. With its grand scale, bold saturated hues and broad, confident strokes Another is an impressively charismatic and vigorous work. Deep black calligraphic strokes interspersed with violet swaths of pigment draw a viewer’s eye to a complementary circular bundle of blazing yellow at the bottom center of the canvas smoldering beneath a glowing mélange of green and blue flashes. The surface of the canvas pulsates energetically as color occupies almost the entirety of the surface—a new development for Mitchell’s work at the beginning of the decade. However, the energy espoused through Mitchell’s vivacious palette belies her emotional state. It was in the context of fear of abandonment and disillusionment in love that Mitchell created this high-keyed work.

Despite the forthrightness of the strokes and vivacity of color in Mitchell’s canvases from 1980, the year was difficult for Mitchell as she was left for another woman by her long time romantic partner and fellow artist Jean-Paul Riopelle the year before. Mitchell once wrote of her fear of abandonment: “I am afraid of death. Abandonment is death also. I mean: Somebody leaves and other people also leave. I never say goodbye to people. Somebody comes for dinner and then leaves. I am very nervous. Because the leaving is the worst part” (Judith Bernstock, Joan Mitchell, New York 1988, p. 168). Mitchell and Riopelle had a tempestuous, on-and-off again relationship, sparked by moments of intense passion and then heart-wrenching separation throughout the 1960s and 1970s. When Mitchell was asked to annotate her 1986 interview with art historian Linda Nochlin and mention Riopelle’s name ‘for the record’ (she initially omitted it in her commentary), Mitchell lashed back, “Oh. If they want a record, they can get it. [Jean Paul Riopelle, French Canadian painter, born 1923, Montreal. Left me for ____ with 26-year-old American dogsitter (1980) who was living in my house. They too are split now]” (Smithsonian, Archives of American Art, “Interview with Joan Mitchell Conducted by Linda Nochlin At the Westbury Hotel,” New York, 16 April 1986). As Judith Bernstock writes of Mitchell’s 1980 paintings, “In the cold blue and icy white one feels Mitchell’s dread of the final farewell, whereas the green, traditional symbol of hope and rebirth (spring), may convey her desire for new beginnings in life—spiritual rebirth...the green of hope and rebirth is infected by the black of despair and death” (Bernstock, pp. 168-169). Behind the densely packed surface of Another and Mitchell’s clear dominance as a commanding abstract painter, there is a sadness and a deeply engrained fear of being alone.

The heat at the bottom of the canvas, mitigated by the sharply contrasting purples, electric greens and somber blacks are reminiscent of the hues of a van Gogh landscape. Mitchell declared van Gogh a favorite at the age of six and would have seen his work on formative visits in her youth to the Art of Institute of Chicago. Though imbued with melancholic emotion, a viewer is reminded of Mitchell’s love of flowers—especially daisies and sunflowers, both types that Mitchell cherished and planted in her garden. Throughout the beginning of the 1980s Mitchell would further develop her use of the color yellow into a series of Yellow Paintings with a characteristically new, more somber feeling than her Sunflowers of the 1960s. “She remarks that people did not perceive her extreme unhappiness during the period of her Yellow Paintings because they associated warm colors exclusively with joy. The blacks and oranges in the painting of 1980 evoke the feeling of dying flowers, with which Mitchell was preoccupied in the early 1980s” (Bernstock, p. 172). The pulsating vibrant outburst of warm yellows tempered by the cold, dark dripping strokes coupled with the fluidity of Mitchell’s gesture and the vivacity of her palette afford this painting a remarkable optimism that, as with the most superb examples of her art, is closely tied to significant personal circumstances at the time of its execution.

Contemporary Art Day Auction

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New York