Portrait of Joan Mitchell, 1991
Gift of Kenneth Tyler 2002
Photographer: Marabeth COHEN-TYLER

Joan Mitchell was born in Chicago in 1925. Her art studies took her to Smith College in Massachusetts from 1942–44, and then back to Chicago where she studied at the Art Institute until 1947. Mitchell then moved to New York where she was a part of the early 1950s avant–garde group of artists that included Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. In 1955, after travelling in Europe and becoming particularly enamoured with France, Mitchell lived between France and the United States, finally settling in France in 1968. Mitchell’s work is characterised by the gestural immediacy and emotional intensity typical of the Abstract Expressionists. The work of French impressionist painters Monet and Cézanne, as well as the Dutch Van Gogh, were also significant influences, and she focused much of her work upon landscape.

Though her work was primarily executed on large canvases and, later in her career, often divided into polyptychs, she also worked in print media. At Tyler Graphics in 1992, Mitchell collaborated with Ken Tyler on a book that illuminated the poetry of Nathan Kernan. The book is composed of eight lithographs in a cloth–covered box, with a paper folio made from recycled proofs from previous projects Mitchell had completed at Tyler Graphics.
Emilie Owens

Further reading


Born in Chicago, Illinois, United States of America

Attends Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts

Attends the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; receives Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1947 and Masters of Fine Arts in 1950

Receives Edward L Ryerson Travelling Fellowship from Art Institute of Chicago for study in Paris, France

Solo exhibition, at Saint Paul Gallery, Minnesota

Moves to New York City, New York

Returns to Paris

Included in Annual exhibition, Art Institute of Chicago; Annual exhibition, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City

Included in Venice biennale, Italy

IncludedBiennial of São-Paulo,Brazil; moves to Paris

Included in exhibition, American Abstract Expressionists and imagists,Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York City

Included in travelling exhibition, Two decades of American painting, organised by Museum of Modern Art International Council, New York City

Moves studio from Paris to Vétheuil, France, a village Impressionist painter Claude Monet lived in before moving to nearby Giverny

Included in Biennial exhibition, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City

Retrospective exhibition, Joan Mitchell, at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City; receives Brandeis University Creative Arts Award, citation in painting

Included in exhibition, The fifties: painting in New York 1950–1960 at Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC

Completes Bedford series lithographs at Tyler Graphics Ltd., Bedford Village, New York; included in Biennial exhibition, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

Included in Biennial exhibition, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City; included in exhibition, The American artist as printmaker: the 23rd annual print exhibition,Brooklyn Museum, New York City

Included in exhibition, Prints from Tyler Graphics, at Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Travelling exhibition, The paintings of Joan Mitchell: thirty-six years of Natural Expressionism, originating at Herbert F Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

Included in exhibition, Ken Tyler: 25 glorious years, Heland Wetterling Gallery, Stockholm, Sweden

Receives le Grands Prix de la Ville de Paris in painting; included in Biennial exhibition, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City

Solo exhibition, Joan Mitchell: pastel, at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City; included in travelling exhibition, Innovation in collaborative printmaking: Kenneth Tyler, 1963–1992, originating at Yokohama Museum of Art, Yokohama, Japan; completes lithograph series’, Sunflowers, Trees and small intaglio prints at Tyler Graphics Ltd., Mount Kisco, New York

Joan Mitchell died in Paris, France

Barbara Delano © Tyler Graphics Ltd.
This chronology provides an overview of selected biographical information, major solo and group exhibitions held within the artist's own lifetime.

Further information will be added to this site as the National Gallery proceeds with its research and documentation.

Last updated January 2017