Joan Mitchell

You’re talking about rejection. Don’t be worried about rejection. I say that now. It’s terrible, I asked one of my dealers years ago “If I don’t sell are you going to dump me?” And he said, “Sure.” But sales don’t make a show.

This post is different. Too much of what she said in her interviews were too perfect to be paraphrased. So here are 5 facts, and 5 quotes that I love:

  1. Born in Chicago, died in France
  2. Influenced by VanGogh, especially his sunflowers
  3. one of few women of TheClub–New York exclusive group of painters including: Kline, Pollock, Kooning, and Rothko
  4. part of the birth of Abstract expressionism
  5. painting sold for a world record $11.9 million (greatest value any woman has sold)

C’mon, how do you work wet into wet for 12 hours and keep a fresh look. You don’t. You can’t. What do you get, that weathered look? (BM)

you’ll be petting [the stray cat] and all of a sudden it has a fit and starts clawing you. It’s not that it thinks you’re going to attack it or anything. It’s that it doesn’t know how to sort of bask in a kind of love or relaxation. And I think there was a longtime … (BM)

Feeling, existing, living, I think it’s all the same, except for quality. Existing is survival; it does not mean necessarily feeling. You can say good morning, good evening. Feeling is something more: it’s feeling your existence. It’s not just survival. Painting is a means of feeling “living.” YM

[A painting is finished] When it stops questioning me. Sometimes I don’t know what to do with it. Sometimes I don’t know exactly what I want. I check it out, recheck it for clays or weeks. Sometimes there is more to do on it. Sometimes I am afraid of ruining what I have. Sometimes I am lazy, I don’t finish it or I don’t push it far enough. Sometimes I think it’s a painting.


What it means? It seems very clear what it means. I can’t say it but the painting makes it clear. If I don’t know, then it’s not working. If it seems right to me, then it has a meaning, but I can’t tell you what meaning. I can’t be more specific than that. it works when it means something, when I don’t question it any more. YM

YM: Interview with Yves Michaud (1986)  (Must read!)
BM: Interview by Cora Cohen & Betsy Sussler (1985-6) Bomb Magazine (longer)


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