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Patricia Albers, Joan Mitchell: Lady Painter, A Life, Knopf, 2011, 544 pp., $40
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by Michèle C. Cone

There are many ways of writing about the life of a famous artist. One is the scholarly way, another is the fawning, adoring way, and then there is the tabloid journalistic way. In recent times, those three approaches have tended to merge and a new genre of biography -- seriously footnoted and inclusive not only of the subject and her family’s finances, but also of her lovers’ drunkenness, lechery and social misbehavior -- has come to the fore. Patricia Albers' more-than-400-page volume on the painter Joan Mitchell falls into that category.