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Joan Mitchell's Retrospective at Kunsthaus Bregenz / Bregenz, Austria

Joan Mitchell
Retrospective. Her Life and Paintings

Kunsthaus Bregenz 
18| 07 – 25 | 10 | 2015

Curators of the exhibition
Yilmaz Dziewior and Rudolf Sagmeister

Joan Mitchell
Joan Mitchell with her dog Georges, 1954
© Walt Silver

Joan Mitchell
Retrospective. Her Life and Paintings
Ground Floor, Kunsthaus Bregenz
Photo: Markus Tretter
© Courtesy of the Joan Mitchell Foundation and Kunsthaus Bregenz


Joan Mitchell
Retrospective. Her Life and Paintings
Ground Floor, Kunsthaus Bregenz
Photo: Markus Tretter
© Courtesy of the Joan Mitchell Foundation and Kunsthaus Bregenz

Joan Mitchell
Retrospective. Her Life and Paintings
Installation view 1st floor, Kunsthaus Bregenz
Photo: Markus Tretter
© Courtesy of the Joan Mitchell Foundation and Kunsthaus Bregenz

Joan Mitchell
Retrospective. Her Life and Paintings
Installation view 1st floor, Kunsthaus Bregenz
Photo: Markus Tretter
©Courtesy of the Joan Mitchell Foundation and Kunsthaus Bregenz

Joan Mitchell
Retrospective. Her Life and Paintings
Installation view 1st floor, Kunsthaus Bregenz
Photo: Markus Tretter
©Courtesy of the Joan Mitchell Foundation and Kunsthaus Bregenz

Joan Mitchell
Retrospective. Her Life and Paintings
Installation view 1st floor, Kunsthaus Bregenz
Photo: Markus Tretter
©Courtesy of the Joan Mitchell Foundation and Kunsthaus Bregenz

Joan Mitchell
Retrospective. Her Life and Paintings
Installation view 2 nd floor, Kunsthaus Bregenz
Photo: Markus Tretter
©Courtesy of the Joan Mitchell Foundation und Kunsthaus Bregenz

Joan Mitchell
Retrospective. Her Life and Paintings
Installation view 3 rd floor, Kunsthaus Bregenz
Photo: Markus Tretter
©Courtesy of the Joan Mitchell Foundation und Kunsthaus Bregenz

Joan Mitchell
Retrospective. Her Life and Paintings
Installation view 3 rd floor, Kunsthaus Bregenz
Photo: Markus Tretter
©Courtesy of the Joan Mitchell Foundation and Kunsthaus Bregenz

Joan Mitchell 
Edrita Fried, 1981
oil on canvas (quadriptych)
118 x 315 in. (299.7 x 800.1 cm)
© Estate of Joan Mitchell, collection of the Joan Mitchell Foundation

Joan Mitchell 
Minnesota, 1980
oil on canvas (quadriptych)
102.5 x 244 5/8 in. (260.4 x 621.4 cm)
© Estate of Joan Mitchell, collection of the Joan Mitchell Foundation
courtesy Cheim & Read, New York

Joan Mitchell 
Untitled, 1954
oil on canvas
71.75 x 67.75 in. (182.3 x 172.1 cm)
© Estate of Joan Mitchell, collection of the Joan Mitchell Foundation

Joan Mitchell 
La Chatière, 1960
oil on canvas
76.5 x 59 in. (194.3 x 149.9 cm)
© Estate of Joan Mitchell, collection of the Joan Mitchell Foundation
courtesy Cheim & Read, New York

Joan Mitchell 
Untitled, 1964
oil on canvas
108 1/8 x 79.5 in. (274.6 x 201.9 cm)
© Estate of Joan Mitchell, collection of the Joan Mitchell Foundation

Joan Mitchell 
Untitled, 1961
oil on canvas
90 1/8 x 81 1/8 in. (228.9 x 206.1 cm)
© Estate of Joan Mitchell, collection of the Joan Mitchell Foundation

Joan Mitchell 
Un Jardin Pour Audrey, 1975, in Joan Mitchell's Vétheuil studio with Iva (dog)
Photographer unknown, collection of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Archives
© Estate of Joan Mitchell, collection of the Joan Mitchell Foundationion

Joan Mitchell 
Joan Mitchell and Norman Bluhm in his studio, June 1971
Photographer unknown, collection of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Archives
© Estate of Joan Mitchell, collection of the Joan Mitchell Foundation

Joan Mitchell
KUB Billboards
Seestraße, Bregenz
Photo: Rudolf Sagmeister


Together with the Museum Ludwig in Cologne and in cooperation with the Joan Mitchell Foundation in New York, Kunsthaus Bregenz is presenting a large-scale survey exhibition of the legendary artist Joan Mitchell (1925 1992). The show’s focus is on painting, ranging from the early work of the 1950s to her last years, presenting nearly thirty paintings by one of 20th century art’s most significant protagonists.

A large part of the exhibition is dedicated to the first Extensive public presentation of archival materials, providing an extraordinary insight into the artist’s fascinating life. Film, photographs, and other ephemera shed light on Joan Mitchell’s personality and her relationship to such cultural figures as Elaine de Kooning, Jean-Paul Riopelle, Frank O’Hara, and Samuel Beckett. Vorarlberg architect Bernardo Bader has developed a display for these archival materials, enabling them to enter into a compelling dialogue with the artist’s works.

In 1959 Joan Mitchell participated in documenta II, and herwork is in the collections of important museums in the USA and France. In recent years a younger generation of artists has rediscovered her work. This renewed dialogue has been largely due to her emancipated attitudes and the unique position her painting enjoys, located between the USA and Europe. Born in Chicago in 1925, she traveled a lot as a young woman, splitting her time between New York and Paris. Around 1959 she began living in Paris full time, in 1968 moving to Vétheuil, a commune in the northwestern suburbs of Paris. As a child, Mitchell was already drawn to European art. She  and her father visited the Art Institute of Chicago, where Mitchell’s favorite works were by Van Gogh, Manet, and other 19th and 20th century French painters. Her early work still displayed an affiliation to the New York School, but her gestural application of paint changed by the end of the 1950s on moving to France when Joan Mitchell began citing such painters as Vincent van Gogh as role models. Even if differing associations, ranging from the light of changing seasons to trees and other plants, emerge in her images, they still confidently assert themselves as purely abstract painting. Such oscillations between the figural, the referential, and the abstract constitute the appeal of Joan Mitchell’s work that reaches far beyond just younger artists.

The exhibition gathers together works from the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Joan Mitchell Foundation, and from private collections, some of which have rarely or never been publicly shown before.

Text: Yilmaz Dziewior

Exhibition Schedule


Joan Mitchell
Kunsthaus Bregenz 
18| 07 – 25 | 10 | 2015

Joan Mitchell
Museum Ludwig, Cologne 
14 | 11 | 2015 – 22 | 02 | 2016



* All images are courtesy of Kunsthaus Bregenz