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Last updated: 6/23/2019
Home / Gallery Tour 1 / Heroic Poetry / Gallery Tour 2 / Artists
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Joan Mitchell Original Prints: 1972 Sunflower etchings

Mitchell 1: Sunflowers / Mitchell 2: Trees and Fields / Mitchell 3: First and Last Prints / Mitchell 4: Bedford Series

Bird / Brinkman / Frankenthaler / Lledos / Miró / Mitchell / Motherwell / Nevelson / Joan Snyder / Tal-Coat / Tàpies / Van Velde

Jennifer Bartlett, Lynda Benglis, Louise Bourgeois, Jonna Rae Brinkman, Louisa Chase, Chryssa / Sue Coe, Susan Crile,
Lesley Dill, Helen Frankenthaler, Jane Freilicher, Nancy Graves, Harmony Hammond, Judy Chicago,
Anita Jung, Elaine de Kooning, Joyce Kozloff, Lee Krasner, Karen Kunc, Ellen Lanyon, Georgia Marsh, Suzanne McClelland,
Phyllis McGibbon, Joan Mitchell, Elizabeth Murray, Judith Murray, Louise Nevelson, Judy Pfaff,
Jaune Quick-to-see Smith, Joan Root, Susan Rothenberg, Betye Saar, Niki de St. Phalle, Hollis Sigler, Kiki Smith,
Joan Snyder, Pat Steir, May Stevens, Dorothea Tanning, and Emmi Whitehorse
Joan Mitchell (American, 1926-1992) is one of the most important American Artists of the twentieth century. Perhaps as a result of spending most of the last thirty years of her life in France, appreciation of Mitchell’s works lagged somewhat behind those of her contemporaries like Helen Frankenthaler and Robert Motherwell. Joan Mitchell's death at the early age of 66 from lung cancer leaves us to lament the absence of this "ecstatic and inventive colorist" (as John Russell calls her in his New York Time obituary), this "lyric poet in paint" (as Jed Perl describes her in Gallery Going: Four Seasons in the Art World). Perl’s review of a 1990 show quoted at length from the poet John Ashbery’s 1970 comment about Mitchell’s relation to nature that "one’s feelings about nature are at different removes from it. There will be elements of things seen even in the most abstracted impression; otherwise the feeling is likely to disappear and leave an object in its place. At other times feelings remain close to the subject, which is nothing against them; in fact, feelings that leave the subject intact may be freer to develop, in and around the theme and independent of it as well." Perl went on to comment that Mitchell might have been the only person working in an abstract expressionist vein in 1990 who did paintings that were not objects, and concluded, "The best Mitchells are authentically civilized experiences. Our appetites are focused and clarified. Her colors are the beautiful colors of the world: tans of flesh and greens of landscape, but also the purple of the iris and the tawny yellow of the pear."

Color plays a crucial role in Mitchell’s prints as well. In Tyler Graphics: The Extended Image, a book published to accompany a large show at the Walker Art Center, E. C. Goossen points out that "the Abstract Expressionist generation out of which she came was forever searching for abstract subject matter with transcendent implications, even though it professed to believe that art was its own message. . . . But unlike those contemporary painters who ‘discover’ their subject in the process of painting, Mitchell works from an idea and builds on it." Goossen adds that while her prints are "most distinctly prints and not paintings or ‘works on paper,’ they do reflect the problems and solutions of Mitchell’s works over the years. They also represent some outlets for her art that have been unavailable to her in painting and thus have clearly expanded her oeuvre as a whole. One of those outlets is an apparent sense of relief from the burden of painting. To one so immersed in the meaningfulness of each act and each response of the matière, the very lightness of the crayon and the possibility of testing colors beforehand so that they will not invade others without her permission seems to have been inspirational." Goossen singles out the three Sides of a River color lithographs (each measuring about 4’ x 3’) as prints "in which theme and execution are indistinguishable" and regards them as standing with Mitchell’s best paintings as among her crowning achievements.

Our inventory formerly included two of these three large pieces, along with many others (including her entire 1972 series of Sunflower etchings, three of her Bedford Series of large format lithographs, and several works completed shortly before her death and published in very small editions—including two small triptychs, a larger diptych, and several single scenes ranging in size from small to large to very large to huge), all of them linked not only by what Goossen calls their "gaiety and affection" but also by their relative affordability. Since her untimely death, museums and collectors have been gobbling up her works; every one taken off the market means that those seeking works by this powerful artist will have less to choose from and at higher prices. As of today, we have only one of the Sunflower etchings, two of the large pieces from Tyler Graphics plus a very large diptych, several sets of her 1990 sets of Trees and Fields, and two unsigned lithographs from large-format exhibition catalogues (with centerfolds).

Selected Bibliography: John Ashbery, Joan Mitchell 1992 (NY: Robert Miller Gallery, 1993); Judith E. Bernstock, Joan Mitchell (NY: Hudson Hills/Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, 1988); John Cheim, Joan MItchell: ". . .  my black paintings . . ." 1964 (NY: Robert Miller Gallery, 1994); James Harithas, Joan Mitchell: 'My Five Years in the Country' - An exhibition of forty-nine paintings (Syracuse: Everson Museum of Art, 1972); Klaus Kertess, Joan Mitchell (NY: Abrams, 1997); Klaus Kertess, Joan Mitchell Pastel (NY: Robert Miller Galery, 1992), Jane Livingston, The Paintings of Joan Mitchell (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002); Richard Marshall, Joan Mitchell (Valencia: IVAM, 1997); Richard D. Marshall, Joan Mitchell: The Last Paintings (NY: Cheim & Read, 2011); Joan Mitchell. Catalogue Exposition Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume (Paris: Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume, 1994); Suzanne Page et al, Joan Mitchell: Choix de Peintures 1970-1982 (Paris: ARC, 1982); Alfred Paquement, ed. Joan Mitchell (Paris: Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume, 1995); Sandro Parmiggiani, ed. Joan Mitchell: La pittura dei Due Mondi / La peinture des Deux Mondes (Ginevra/Milano, 2009); Barbara Rose, Joan Mitchell: Bedford Series (Bedford: Tyler Graphics, 1981); Marcia Tucker, Joan Mitchell (NY: Whitney Museum, 1974); Michel Waldberg, Joan Mitchell (Paris: La Difference, 1999: a massive monograph—347 pp. with 252 color illustrations—that is the most important monograph on Mitchell so far, still available only in French and selling for about Please call or email for current pricing information!).
Sunflower 1. Original color etching, 1972. 50 signed and numbered impressions on Arches. Published in Paris in 1972 by Maeght Editeur. Image size: 180x110mm. Price: SOLD.
Sunflower 2. Original color etching, 1972. 60 signed and numbered impressions on Arches. Published in Paris in 1972 by Maeght Editeur. Image size: 360x240mm. Price: SOLD.
Sunflower 3. Original color etching, 1972. 75 signed and numbered impressions on Arches. Published in Paris in 1972 by Maeght Editeur. One of Mitchell’s masterpieces, this piece is almost impossible to find. Image size: 680x440mm. Price: SOLD
Sunflower 4. Original color etching, 1972. 50 signed and numbered impressions on Arches printed from 12 separate plates. Published in Paris in 1972 by Maeght Editeur. Image size: 240x620mm. Price: SOLD.
Sunflower 5. Original color etching, 1972. 75 signed and numbered impressions on Arches. Published in Paris in 1972 by Maeght Editeur. Ours is an HC impression. Image size: 685x435mm. Price: Please call or email for current pricing information.
Sunflower 6. Original color etching, 1972. 75 signed and numbered impressions on Arches. Published in Paris in 1972 by Maeght Editeur. Image size: 595x495mm. Price: SOLD.
Sunflower 7. Original color etching, 1972. 75 signed and numbered impressions on Arches. Published in Paris in 1972 by Maeght Editeur. Image size: 680x440mm. Price: SOLD.

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