An Homage to Joan Mitchell
Let’s be honest here. No one REALLY reads these statements. Artists generally loathe writing them (self included). Artist statements are just old guard relics chock full of International Art English. THE WORK SPEAKS FOR ITSELF. It either evokes an emotion in you or doesn’t. OK. OK. You still insist on an explanation? Suffice it to say essentially this collection is an in-memoriam tribute to the bawdy, unflappable, misunderstood, painter’s painter, poet’s poet, a kindred spirit, the incomparable Joan Mitchell.
Here are some interesting tidbits regarding this collection:
1) All the titles in this collection are roughly based from Robin Lippicott’s book of the same name, ‘Blue Territory’.
2) Joan herself would say, “ …The moment something is clarified it is dead.” See thusly-titled painting in this collection and/or pp. 64 of Lippicott’s aforementioned book.
3) What’s up with those two discordant works in the collection? You mean that Tampon Painter and Those Two Bitches? Every great artist has her rivals and Joan had her fair share no-doubt. These pieces specifically reference Joan’s sentiments towards Frankenthaler and Harrington both of whom she viewed as exploiting their work through famous connections primarily for recognition and capital gain. Here’s where I’ll make my statement: these pieces embody the Empire-spirit—the one that perverts, commodifies and strangulates the sacred immaterial. The same one that runs rampant across social media today and the one that Joan also obviously detested.
4) Both Frankenthaler (1955) and Mitchell (1972) entitled paintings ‘Blue Territory’
5) “If Mitchell had had to choose but one color out of which to make a rainbow, it would certainly have been blue. Whether the blue that makes darkness visible, the blue of the water, and the blues in Cezanne, van Gogh, and Matisse, the blue of morning glories or delphiniums, or ‘the blues’ of jazz and sadness, blue was critical to the life of Mitchell’s painting. “ –Klaus Kertess, Joan Mitchell
6) In 1987/88 Mitchell created a work entitled ‘No Birds,’ an homage to van Gogh’s ‘Wheatfield with Crows.’ It’s speculated at that time she was battling a darkness familiar to him. ‘A Blackbird for Joan’ is my prayer of gratitude for the deeply impressionable oeuvre she left in her wake.