Joan Mitchell stands out as the most important woman in the American Abstract Expressionist movement of the 1940s and 50s, exhibiting alongside titans Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Barnett Newman. Mitchell was born in Illinois, and studied at Smith College. On a scholarship trip to Europe in the late 1940s, Mitchell began a passionate and life-long affair with France, and divided the rest of her time between homes there and in New York.
Mitchell’s work, although abstract, is grounded and inspired in landscape. Her work reflects the influence of Monet, Cézanne, and Van Gogh. As a result, her paintings have an organic flow to them, the seemingly scattered paint alluding to nature’s equally nuanced order.