Joan Mitchell, Lady Painter: A Life

Patricia Albers. Knopf, $40 (544p) ISBN 978-0-375-41437-4
In this first biography of renowned abstract expressionist painter Joan Mitchell (1925–1992), Albers (Shadows, Fire, Snow: The Life of Tina Modotti) vividly chronicles the artist's tortuous journey from her wealthy upbringing in Chicago to her defiant student days at Smith College, and as a young painter at the Art Institute of Chicago when "the wisdom of the day held that women couldn't really paint." Albers focuses on Mitchell's artistic life as a rising and respected New York School painter and her years in France from the late 1950s until her death. Albers deftly balances Mitchell's often difficult temperament (some found her "cranky and contentious"; she was an insomniac and alcoholic) with her artistic vision. Mitchell described her mind as a mental "suitcase filled with pictures," and Albers centers her narrative on the "blessing and curse" of Mitchell's vivid visual memory and synesthesia. Albers astutely analyzes Mitchell's paintings, and one wishes she had done so more often throughout a generally comprehensive study. Vibrantly written and carefully researched, including numerous interviews with Mitchell's former husband, Barney Rosset (former owner of Grove Press), friends, lovers, and colleagues, Albers constructs a fluid, energetic narrative of Mitchell's complicated life and work. 8 pages of color photos, 62 photos in text. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/21/2011
Release date: 05/01/2011
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 450 pages - 978-0-307-59598-0
Show other formats
Discover what to read next