Joan Mitchell

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Painter, Printmaker (1925)
Fri Jan 03 2020
By   reshma

Quick Timeline Of Joan Mitchell

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Husband : Barney Rosset
Joan Mitchell Married To Barney Rosset In 1949 And Divorced In 1952

American "second generation" abstract expressionist painter and print-maker, Joan Mitchell is widely known for her large abstract paintings brush-stroked with vibrant colors. She was among the few females painters in her era whose work was critically acclaimed by people around the globe.

On February 12, 1925, Joan Mitchell was born in Chicago, Illinois, as the daughter of dermatologist James Herbert Mitchell and poet Marion Strobel Mitchell. Growing up in the Streeterville neighborhood, she attended Francis W. Parker School. Later, she enrolled herself at Smith College in Massachusetts, from where she graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1947. Joan is a Master of Fine Arts graduate from The Art Institute of Chicago of the year 1950.

Married to Barney Rosset

Joan was bound in marital union with publisher and editor-in-chief of the magazine Evergreen Review, Barney Rosset. In 1949, the pair walked down the aisle in an intimate wedding held in Paris.

American painter Joan Mitchell and her former spouse, Barney Rosset.
Image: Joan Mitchell with her ex-husband, Barney Rosset
source: New York Times

During the initial phase of their love relationship, Barney followed Joan to New York, where she introduced Barney to her abstract expressionist friends. Later both of them moved to France, where they ultimately got married. 

In 1951, the husband-wife duo returned to New York. It was then their married life started to lose its spark. Though they drifted apart, they were still friendly and decently settled their issues. In 1952, the pair dissolved their marriage officially with a divorce. The couple stayed as man and wife for three years but shared no children.

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Love Life with Canadian Painter, Jean-Paul Riopelle

After the divorce, Joan was in a love relationship with French-Canadian painter Jean-Paul Riopelle. The two were in a romantic relationship from 1959 through 1979 but never married.

Abstract Expressionist, Mitchell with her lover Jean-Paul Riopelle in  Chicago.
Photo: Joan Mitchell and her companion, Jean-Paul Riopelle, in Chicago
Source: Art Gallery of Ontario

Mitchell and Riopelle first met back in the summer of 1955 in Paris. Sharing the same passion for painting, the two quickly clicked and stayed longtime friends and lovers. Even before they knew each other, both of them had already flourished in developing abstract paintings. 

The pair started dating in 1959 but didn't move in together. Mitchell and Paul kept separate homes and studios near Giverny. For two decades, they were in a romantic and turbulent relationship. The expressionist lovers were seen together drinking and dining almost every day before ending their relationship in 1979.

The Net Worth of abstract expressionist painter

Mitchell was one of the prominent female painters of her era. The abstract expressionist paintings were exquisite pieces of art and were sold for millions. As per some online sources, Joan had a jaw-dropping net worth of $95 Million from her fruitful painting career, which is way more than the net worth of Georges LeBar.

After the demise of her mother in 1967, Joan inherited her wealth, which was enough to purchase a two-acre estate above Vetheuil, a little town on the Seine. She lived there unit the last days of her life in 1992. As for 2021, the average price of a home in Vetheuil is $279,155. Furthermore, she was the owner of two-acre real estate in Vetheuil, so the price could be as higher as $18.5 million if it was for now.

Joan's treasured paintings auctioned for millions

As people critically acclaimed her abstract works over the continent, she was rewarded with lucrative amounts from her work. She earned over $30,000 in art sales, which was a decent amount for a woman painter at her time. 

In 2007, her ethereal painting Ste. Hilaire (1957) was sold for $3.8 million by the Art Institute of Chicago at Christie's New York. Similarly, in the year 2012, Untitled (1971) painting was sold for $7 Million at Christie's Paris, become the second-highest price achieved by a female painter in an auction. 

Untitled (1960) by Mitchell, sold at auction in New York for $11.9 Millions.
Picture: Michell's abstract painting, Untitled (1960), sold at auction in New York for $11.9 Million. 
Source: Wikipedia

Another work of Mitchell, Untitled (1960), was sold at Christie's New York for the price of $11.9 million in 2014, setting an auction record for a female artist. Later, it was surpassed with a painting by Georgia O'Keeffe, which was auctioned for $44.4 million. According to Bloomberg, Joan's work earned a massive amount of $239.8 million in sales from 1985 through 2013. 

Career Achievements over the Years

Mitchell's paintings and print works are displayed in museums and major art galleries across the United States and Europe as well. In 1951, Joan's abstract painting was exhibited in a historical, ground-breaking exhibition, Ninth Street Show alongside the work of other significant painters like Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Hans Hofmann.

Mitchell's solo exhibition was conducted for the first time in 1952 at the New Art Gallery. Similarly, in 1972, she staged an exhibition named "My Five Years in the Country" at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, New York. 

Joan Mitchell in her art studio in front of her painting.
Snap: Painter Joan Mitchell with her abstract painting
Source: Art Space

In December of 1988, for the first time, people witnessed her retrospective exhibition, which featured 54 paintings she did from 1951 to 1987. With her impeccable works, she had become one of the successful and famous painters of her time. Other exhibitions were held in Whitney Museum of American Art, Birmingham Museum of Art, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, The Phillips Collection, etc.

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Today her artworks are part of many public collections in the United States and Europe, which include the Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Art Institute of Chicago, Walker Art Center, and many more. 

The tragic death of the Greatest American Painter

The health of Mitchell significantly started to degrade from the early 1980s, which drastically affected her work. Later in 1984, she was diagnosed with oral cancer to which mandibulectomy was suggested. A pioneer in radiation oncology, Jean-Pierre Batain advised radiation therapy, which worked for her but left her with a dead jawbone. Later, she also developed anxiety and depression. Although she quit smoking after the treatment but remained an excessive drinker.

The prominent painter Joan Mitchell died at the age of  67 on October 30, 1992.
Snap: The prominent painter Joan Mitchell died at the age of  67 on October 30, 1992.
Source: kid paw

In the year 1992, she was diagnosed with lung cancer, which was not in the treatable stage. She returned to her then resident Vétheuil in France. Later she got admitted to a hospital in Paris. On October 30, 1992, Mitchell breathed her last breathe at the American Hospital of Paris. Although she ceased to exist, her legendary work will continue to amaze people for many more ages from now.

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Joan Mitchell Foundation, a tribute to Joan

The inventive painter was not just good at filling up the canvas with rich layers of vibrant colors but also a person who was ever-ready to help the ones asking for a favor. Mitchell never hesitated to support the painters who came to stay with her at Vétheuil. The native of Chicago, the same as Charlene Carruthers, provided accommodations for days and months to the young painters. The kindness and generosity she sprinkled in her lifetime returned as the formation of the Joan Mitchell Foundation after her demise.

Joan Mitchell Foundation is a non-profit corporation established in the memory of the late American Painter in 1993. It is located in Manhattan, New York. The foundation supports and amplifies the opportunities for visual artists through grants, stipends, residencies, and related initiatives. Further, the foundation promotes and preserves her legacy, including her exceptional works, photographs, papers, and anything pertaining to her life and work. 

Awards and accolades

An essential figure in the second generation of American Abstract Expressionists, Mitchell was honored with several awards during her lifetime. In 1947, she was honored with James Nelson Raymond Foreign Traveling Fellowship by the Art Institute of Chicago. Similarly, Lissone Prize was bestowed upon her in 1961.

The ecstatic colorist's career as a painter rose with each passing year. She is also honored with Honorary Doctorates from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Miami University in 1987 and 1971, respectively. Furthermore, in 1989 she received the award for painting by the French Ministry of Culture.

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