(American, 1925–1992) was bold and inventive painter, and preeminent member of the “second generation” of Abstract Expressionists. Born in Chicago, she attended Smith College and The Art Institute of Chicago before moving to New York in 1950. Influenced by Willem de Kooning
(American/Dutch, 1904–1997) and Franz Kline
(American, 1910–1962), Mitchell painted striking
, animated compositions, but remained somewhat separated from other Abstract Expressionist painters. Mitchell maintained that much of her work was inspired by her reactions to landscapes, rather than by internal emotion and the subconscious, frequently cited as a driving force behind the work of most Abstract Expressionists.
Mitchell’s paintings, though reflective of her external surroundings, were never representational. The artist commented, I do not want to improve [nature]... I certainly never mirror it. I would like more to paint what it leaves me with. In 1959, after several successful but tempestuous years in New York, Mitchell moved to Paris, and would live in France for the rest of her life. After her mother’s death in 1967, she settled in Vétheuil, a town 60 miles outside of Paris and a previous home of Claude Monet
(French, 1840–1926). There Mitchell found ample natural phenomena in the lush French landscapes for her works, which grew larger and bolder later in her life. Mitchell had several retrospectives during her lifetime, at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and at the Musée de l’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. She died of lung cancer in 1992, at 66 years of age.