Joan Mitchell Foundation

At least once a decade, Mitchell spent a concentrated amount of time in the production of prints. In the late 1950s, Mitchell was encouraged by Floriano Vecchi, the owner of Tiber Press in New York, to make prints with his workshop. In 1959-60, Mitchell made a series of screenprints with hand-painted overlay at Tiber, some of which were reproduced in the limited edition artist book, The Poems, to accompany poems by her contemporary and friend John Ashbery. The Poems was one of four books made in a set by Tiber; each paired the work of a New York School poet with the prints of an abstract expressionist painter.

In 1972 Mitchell returned to printmaking, this time to make etchings with Arte Adrian Maeght, Paris. These prints demonstrate one of the earliest uses of a favorite leitmotif, sunflowers, which grew in Mitchell’s gardens at Vétheuil where she had settled a few years prior. These etchings, in burnt and bleached tones of sun and sky, reflect the life cycle of the sunflower. Particulate marks come together like matter coalescing to form a flower and hold together in the looseness of its subsequent disintegration. Sunflower-like forms emerge and dissipate in a riotous, scratchy landscape of growth. The autumnal tones of the Sunflower series point to Mitchell’s identification with the feeling of the dying sunflower.

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