American Artist Joan Mitchell and Claude Monet at the Fondation Louis Vuitton

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American Artist Joan Mitchell and Claude Monet at the Fondation Louis Vuitton
Joan Mitchell might not be a household name, but the twin exhibitions of the works of this U.S.-born abstract expressionist – the Joan Mitchell Retrospective and Monet – Mitchell – currently on view at the Fondation Louis Vuitton – are designed to change that. Joan Mitchell was born in Chicago on February 12, 1925, to an upper-class family. Her mother, who was deaf, was a poet and associate editor of Poetry magazine. Her father was a successful physician. In her youth, Mitchell was not only athletic, but also wrote poetry, started art classes in second grade at the Art Institute of Chicago, and painted en plein air with her father. According to one source, “When she was eleven years old, her father compelled her to choose between writing poetry and painting rather than risk mediocrity at both.” She chose painting. Rebellious by nature and determined to live life on her own terms, in 1948, she rented a studio at 73 rue Galande in the Paris 5th. About that stay, she wrote, “France has sort of disappointed me…I’m not even sure what I expected but I don’t like it or the French much…” Joan Mitchell at the window of her 73 rue Galande apartment, Paris, 1948. Photograph by Barney Rosset, Joan Mitchell Foundation Archives. © Joan Mitchell Foundation In 1950, she established a studio in New York and became part of the art scene there. Friends included artists Franz Kline and Willem de Kooning. In 1951, she had her first solo exhibition in New York, and she participated in the 9th Street Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture, a pivotal exhibition that launched Abstract Expressionism, the first internationally relevant American art movement. Exhibition poster for 9th Street Show, New York, 1951. © Joan Mitchell Foundation Mitchell’s work was shown in one-woman and group shows, and as recognition of and respect for her art grew as a member of the second generation Abstract Expressionists, museums purchased her work, as the Whitney Museum of American Art did in 1956. In 1967, Mitchell purchased an estate overlooking the Seine in the village of Vertheuil, an hour northwest of Paris. From her window, she could see the house where Monet lived for over 10 years before moving to Giverny. Joan Miitchell gazing out the window of her studio in Vertheuil.

Lead photo credit : Photo by Diane Stamm

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Diane Stamm occasionally writes from Paris.


  • Robert Glaze
    2023-02-02 07:54:54
    Robert Glaze
    Great article. I saw the exhibition in late November and loved it!! I highly recommend that people see it before it closes!!!


    • Diane Stamm
      2023-02-02 10:57:52
      Diane Stamm
      Hi Robert. Thanks so much for the input. You are a man of discerning taste! - Diane