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County Clare
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County Clare
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County Clare

US
NY, US
US

About the item

Among the most used, and perhaps abused, misnomers employed to describe Joan Mitchell is as a “painter’s painter.” Mitchell’s paintings categorically dismiss this exclusionary academic posturing, as she is not only a “painter’s painter” but a scion of painting and direct descendent of the elite conclave of the New York School of Abstract Expressionists. The present work, County Clare from 1960, is a verifiable chromatic testament to Mitchell’s uninhibited confidence and bravura among what was perceived at the time to be a male dominated exercise in painting. County Clare is a formidable tour de force in scale and gesture, executed on Mitchell's customary unprimed canvas, created with an authority that beckons the viewer to imagine the art-making process during its execution, as much as beholding the intoxicating expressiveness palpable in its outcome. Unlike any other apart from Jackson Pollock, Mitchell as an artist, male or female, was one who employed the very medium of the viscous oil as a conduit capable of transmitting her anger, passions and fears. Just as Pollock’s emotional furor was communicated directly from the can to the surface in his “drip” paintings, Mitchell wielded the brush with talismanic bravura, and occasionally translated her angst by vigorously flinging or smearing the paint onto the canvas by hand. There is no questioning what now has the tone of tyrannical reverence in Linda Nochlin’s famous assessment of Mitchell's "rage to paint." Yet, her art-making was "more calculating, more consciously in search of beauty than her predecessors," the now legendary boys of the New York School. (Klaus Kertess, Joan Mitchell, New York, 1997, p. 22)  Mitchell was not solely attempting to paint emotions like her counterparts in the school of heroic Action Painters. In interviews with Marcia Tucker for the 1974 show of her work, Mitchell stated, “I’m not involved with ‘isms’ or what is ‘à la mode.’ I’m very old fashioned, but not reactionary. My paintings aren’t about art issues. They’re about a feeling that comes to me from the outside, from landscape.” (the artist in Exh. Cat., New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Joan Mitchell, 1974, p. 6) County Clare, therefore, must be considered in the academic vein in which it was intended, a brilliantly constructed painterly surface, more intellectual than emotive. Painted in 1960, County Clare was created during an unsettling time in Mitchell’s life that may be reflected in her art, yet she was also a disciplined artist who carefully calibrated her compositions and strokes. She had acquired a studio in 1959 on the rue Frémicourt in Paris, and from afar she would learn that her mother’s battle with cancer was taking a grim turn. County Clare is considered one of a handful of Frémicourt paintings, named as such by an eponymously titled exhibition at Cheim & Read, and noted by Klaus Kertess in his essay as among a small output of her work that had previously not been grouped. Kertess observes that in these canvases “her furies of paint are not so much about self-expression as about the complex struggle of making a painting”, and concludes that in this period, “[the] visual dynamism and intensity of these paintings, in spite of their turbulence and excessiveness, waste not a single mark.” Kertess rightfully notes that these paintings are not biographical, they are simply a palpable reflection of the intimacy that Mitchell had with her medium. Simultaneous to this development Kertess also cites an affinity between Mitchell and another expatriate American artist working in Europe: “In these same years, [Cy] Twombly’s expressiveness, like Mitchell’s, blossomed into fullness. The jubilant lyricism of his paintings with its frequent scatological references and discursive writerly markmaking pulsed with subjective metaphoricality. …Both Mitchell and Twombly played a major role in keeping drawing vividly alive on painting’s surface.” (Klaus Kertess in Exh. Cat., New York, Cheim & Read, Joan Mitchell: Frémicourt Paintings 1960-1962, New York, 2005, n.p.)\nCounty Clare possesses a deep sunflower yellow gravitational epicenter that appears to harness the floating atmospheric cloud of chromatic painterly gestures. The surface unites meaning and emotional intensity and seeks no allusions to the tribal or the mythic. Mitchell deliberately adopts none of the thematic alternatives available to her from Surrealist or abstracted figuration. Instead, she unapologetically reverted to the facture of her brushstroke to convey the power of memories and experiences, themes she professed as the basis of her painting. Only a profound understanding and devotion to the gesture—whether as calligraphic, spilled, dotted, thinned, blurred, smudged, or scraped—can emanate such powerful intensity. The painting is a lyrical transcendence in which Mitchell titillates between abstraction into landscape, existing through the physical act of painting. As she succinctly stated: “Painting allows me to survive.” (Exh. Cat., New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Ibid., p. 7)\n\nThe compositional divergence from the paintings of the late 50s to County Clare must be seen as a poetic and deliberate evolution, as opposed to a conscious stylistic break from the all-over composition of her earlier work towards a centralized mass of unrestrained color. County Clare in its eminent and luminous grandeur evidences the fascinating disconnect between Mitchell's emotional state and her chosen mode for representation. Mitchell herself viewed these compositions not as increasingly lyrical but 'as very violent and angry paintings.' (Judith E. Bernstock, Joan Mitchell, New York, 1988, p. 60.) Yet unlike her subsequently titled Black Paintings—a group of canvases created from 1963 to 1967— County Clare evokes none of the chaotic elements of the latter. As a schematic landscape, it is a testament to the pioneering advancement Joan Mitchell achieved of rendering radiant abstractions that celebrated the visual possibilities within her strictly gestural, original and brilliant process.\nSigned
US
NY, US
US

medium

Oil on canvas

creator

Joan Mitchell

condition

This painting is in excellent condition. Please contact the Contemporary Art department at 212-606-7254 for the condition report prepared by Terrence Mahon. The canvas is framed in a white blonde wood strip frame with small float. In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.

dimensions

66 x 114 in. 167.6 x 289.6 cm.

exhibition

New York, Stable Gallery, Recent Paintings by Joan Mitchell, April - May 1961 Santa Fe, Laura Carpenter Fine Art, Joan Mitchell, Trees and Other Paintings 1960 to 1993, May - June 1992, n.p., illustrated in color New York, Cheim & Read, Joan Mitchell: Frémicourt Paintings 1960 - 62, May - June 2005, cat. no. 12, n.p., illustrated in color and illustrated in color in detail on the front cover

literature

Klaus Kertess, Joan Mitchell, New York, 1997, pl. 28, n. p., illustrated in color

provenance

Estate of the Artist Private Collection, United States (acquired from the above) Pascal de Sarthe Fine Art, Scottsdale Private Collection, Hong Kong (acquired from the above) Acquired by the present owner from the above

signedDate

Signed

creator_nationality_dates

1925 - 1992


*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.


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