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7 Joan Mitchell Follow Hours signed "Joan Mitchell" lower right of the right panel oil on canvas, diptych each 39 1/4 x 31 3/4 in. (99.7 x 80.6 cm.) overall 39 1/4 x 63 1/2 in. (99.7 x 161.3 cm.) Painted in 1989.
Provenance Robert Miller Gallery, New York Private Collection (acquired from the above in 1989) Cohen Gallery, New York Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1994 Catalogue Essay In Joan Mitchell’s Hours, 1989, gestural brushstrokes sweep, tumble, crisscross and hover across the white ground, lyrically coalescing into an abstract landscape suffused in ultramarine blues, reds, greens and dappled with flashes of orange. Each line is powerfully laid down with a confidence and intuition that conveys the mastery of line, color, and placement Mitchell had achieved after over four decades of painting. Brimming with energy, Hours epitomizes the unrelentingly creative fervor with which Mitchell embraced radiant color and a looser formal vocabulary in her late oeuvre between 1985 and 1992. Painted just three years prior to the artist’s death, Hours belongs to the discrete body of work created in 1989 that debuted at Mitchell’s first solo exhibition at the Robert Miller Gallery in New York to rave reviews – the same year as her seminal travelling retrospective at Cornell University, Ithaca, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, and the San Francisco Museum of Art. Widely considered as some of the most assuredly opulent paintings in Mitchell’s oeuvre, the 1980s works have an almost weightless quality to them that eloquently articulate imagined landscapes or feelings about places Mitchell had experienced. Hours evidences the chromatic exuberance that began to figure in Mitchell’s paintings following her move to Vétheuil in the late 1960s, the same river village that had previously inspired Claude Monet It is as if Hours breathes that very light and air, lushness and bloom, giving rise to the sensation of seeing the sky through a thicket of greenery or perhaps the reflections of nature on a rippling body water. The present work beautifully demonstrates how Mitchell’s compositions are never concrete representations, but associative, painterly approximations. As she had already explained in 1958, “I paint from remembered landscapes that I carry with me – and remembered feelings of them, which of course become transformed…” (Joan Mitchell quoted in Judith E. Bernstock, Joan Mitchell Manchester, 1997, p. 31). The paintings Mitchell began to create from 1985 demonstrated a distinct departure from her earlier pictorial idiom. Employing a palette of primary colors, Mitchell began to explore the tension between the sparseness of the white pictorial ground and the thrumming energy that individual, bold brushstrokes could communicate. While Mitchell’s brushstrokes coalesced into all-over compositions in the late 1970s and early 1980s, in works such as the present one they animate the surface akin to torqueing waves. This interweaving of varied brushstrokes vividly brings to mind the late abstract landscape paintings of Willem de Kooning Mitchell’s close friend and mentor when she lived in New York. Yet as much as Hours is a nod to Mitchell’s Abstract Expressionist predecessors, it is also a joyous homage to the artist’s Impressionist and Post-Impressionist forebears, including Paul Cézanne and Vincent van Gogh but perhaps above all, Henri Matisse in its evocation of such works as Landscape at Collioure , 1905, Museum of Modern Art, New York. Speaking of the way Matisse put white on the canvas, Mitchell indeed acknowledged, “I wanted to put on paint like Matisse” (Joan Mitchell quoted in “Joan Mitchell and Yves Michaud”, 1986, Joan Mitchell Cologne, 2015, p. 57). Titled Hours , the present work points to Mitchell’s concern with notions of duration, a theme also alluded to in other work titles from the 1989 series, such as Lapse , Day , or Span . “Painting”, as Mitchell noted in 1986, is "the only art form except still photography which is without time…It never ends, it is the only thing that is both continuous and still” (Joan Mitchell quoted in “Conversations with Joan Mitchell", in Joan Mitc
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