Curator‘s Comments

Joan Mitchell, who attended Smith College, was one of the few women Abstract Expressionists working in New York in the 1950s. Like the circle’s best-known members, Jackson Pollock and Franz Kline, she viewed the primary subject of painting as painting itself. Unlike them, though, Mitchell looked to nature for inspiration, explaining:
I paint from remembered landscapes that I carry with me—and remembered feelings of them, which of course become transformed. I could certainly never mirror nature. I would
like to paint what it leaves with me.
Mitchell painted aggressively, sometimes in a state of rage. Here, working over a charcoal sketch, she added paint with her fingers, brushes, and rags, leaving raw canvas visible in places. In a play between the accidental and deliberate, she allowed paint to drip, only to reassert control by applying further brush strokes. “Music, poems, landscape, and dogs make me want to paint,” she once said, “And painting is what allows me to survive.”


Joan Mitchell. American, 1926–1992

Untitled, c. 1960

Oil on canvas

Purchased with the gift of Mrs. John W. O’Boyle (Nancy Millar, class of 1952)

ID Number: SC 1981:30