Joan Mitchell was known as one of the most distinguished members of the ‘second generation’ of abstract expressionists. Her reactions to landscape environments rather than internal emotions related to the subconscious is what separated her unique artwork to others during the 20th century. This made Joan a significant driving force in the art community and one of the most experimental and bold artists in the 1950’s. 

Born on February 12th 1925 in Chicago Illinois, from a very young age Joan had an interest in the arts. She also had a love for writing through the influence of her mother who was a poet, writer and editor. On the weekends Joan’s father would often take her and her older sister on a trip to the Art Institute of Chicago. These trips further inspired Joan and fed her love of painting. Her passion manifested even more over time as she would go on and earn her Bachelor of Fine Arts at the same institution in1947. 

After graduating university, she moved to France to complete her Fellowship and in 1949 resided to New York City. This would then become the turning point of her art career. Participating in the landmark Ninth Street Show of abstract expressionists, Joan gained a prestigious membership in the male dominated ‘Street Club’ founded by the New York School. She became one of the first up and coming female artists during that decade. While Joan’s art was becoming more successful and gaining a reputation for her unconventional ideas, she went on to study extra credit at Columbia and New York University. She would then go on to complete her Master of Fine Arts between 1952-1953.  

In 1968 Joan settled back in France for the remaining of her life. She gave endless support to aspiring artists who would stay with her in Vétheuil. Her generosity had a life changing impact on those who spent time with her. Her humanitarianism continued throughout her life and after her death on October 30th 1992, the Joan Mitchell foundation was set up in order to continue the support of future young artists. 

Joan Mitchell shocked the art world with her structured yet chaotic composition and thick brush stroke techniques, inspiring a new wave of thinking and perception in our world.  

-Eliz Bilal 
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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