Painting of the Day #23 Joan Mitchell Ladybug 1957 Oil on Canvas
The founders of Abstract Expressionism became wildly popular in America and especially in New York, where it became the first major American art movement. The second wave of these artists were usually folks that hung out within the circle of Abstract Expressionists (Mainly Pollock, deKooning and promoter extraordinaire Clement Greenberg. This period was much different than previous eras partly due to the large number of critically acclaimed women artists. Does this font say “70’s Rock n’ Roll Chick Band”? From left to right: Joan Mitchell, Lee Krasner, Grace Hartigan, Lita Ford, Helen Frankenthaler
Joan Mitchell (no, not the fucking singer) <ul><li>She said that she wanted her paintings "to convey the feeling of the dying sunflower” </li></ul>
Joan Mitchell Hudson River Day Line 1955 Oil on Canvas Mitchell’s work was emotionally charged to the extent of sometimes looking like the paint was applied in a fast and violent fashion. This is recognizable in the large (and/or) long brushstrokes and splashes of paint resulting from fast strokes with very loose paint. She also utilized many new methods of paint application. In this piece, the paint was watered down w/ paint thinner and applied heavily, leaving runny, drippy strokes that ran down the canvas.
In painting there is often a reference to the paints application and what body part was used to paint the image ( ie painting from the wrist or painting from the arm or shoulder) . Mitchell epitomizes painting from the shoulder. This is again shown in the long, broad sweeping strokes Believe it or not, these are very formal paintings. Although they’re not figurative, they deal with formal elements such as color, balance, color balance and composition. In order to make a painting like this not look like shit, a ton of analysis has to be done in thinking about weight, transparency, color harmonies and focal points (or lack thereof). <ul><li>14 O’Clock </li></ul><ul><li>1959 </li></ul><ul><li>Oil on Canvas </li></ul>
Untitled 1959 Oil on Canvas I heart Joan Mitchell because she hearted paint. A lot. She explored and played with many techniques. Her experimentation revolved around a landscape motif. Paint a few paintings and you’ll learn some of the characteristics of paint application and when you go to a museum, you’ll be able to see how the artist made the painting. I’ll leave the ‘deep in the weeds’ details for another slide show but let me give you a quick and dirty assessment of the situation here. Just b/c I think Mitchell was pretty great at what she did. First she started out w/ a raw canvas. When one says,”raw canvas” that means untreated. Usually ‘gesso’ is applied to seal the canvas so that the oils in the paint don’t damage the fabric. Gesso is bright white and if it isn’t completely painted over before the start of the actual painting, you’ll have little bits of that bright white peeking out making you look like a really, really bad painter. Anyhoo…. Lets examine this piece closer…
If you look closely at the layering of the brushstrokes, they’re all piled on. Find the paint that isn’t on top of any other brushstrokes and that’s probably one of the colors she started out with. It may be the color that the artist painted over the gesso with. Mitchell used a wide range of opacities in her work. See how above the paint is thickly layered on while below it’s very thin and “washy”? Not only are they placed next to each other in this fashion, but brushstrokes sometimes turn from thick to thin w/ manipulation of paint thinner. One thing I really dig about JM is the editing process… these white planes are brushed in to keep more of a focus on her intended focal points but the colors are not meticulously mixed to try to blend in to the background like nothing was there before. This keeps a lovely consistency with the paint application- fast, dirty and loose. Often there are 2 or more colors per brushstroke. This happens when colors are not thoroughly mixed or right next to each other on a palette. Judging by the strokes, she probably had a huge messy palette
Untitled 1959 Oil on Canvas Pretty cool, huh? I think so.
Mitchell Died in 1992 but was still making artwork which didn’t suck until the bitter end. That is extremely rare in the art world…I’m looking at YOU Jasper Johns! <ul><li>La Grande Vallee </li></ul><ul><li>1983 </li></ul><ul><li>Oil on Canvas </li></ul>The only good art John’s (famous mainly for the Pop Art American Flag) has done since the 60’s was his appearance on the Simpsons in 1999!
Helen Frankenthaler Not only was Frankenthaler responsible for revolutionizing the use of washes (highly watered down paint to make a watercolor like effect) but she was also a pioneer for the Color Field movement and a total ‘PILF’
Helen Frankenthaler Mountains and Sea 1952 Oil and charcoal on canvas 7' 2 5/8” x 9' 9 Helen Frankenthaler was enamored after seeing some of the Abstract Expressionist gallery shows in New York and really wanted to get in on this ‘artistic language’. She was highly influenced by Pollock and the writings of Clement Greenberg- so she was alllll about the Abstract Expressionism movement.
Jacob’s Ladder 1957 Oil on canvas 9' 5 3/8" x 69 7/8“ Museum of Modern Art Buzzards Bay 1959 Oil on Canvas Watered down paints make very translucent paintings.
Helen Frankenthaler Provincetown 1961 oil on canvas 92x101 inches
Sometime between 1961 and 1963 Frankenthaler began using acrylic paints. These paints tended to easily create shapes with less detail as poured oil and became more ‘graphic’ or relating to flat harder edged shapes. Hey! This is the first mention of acrylic paints in my PoTDs. Turns out, loosey runny acrylics were invented in the 50’s and thicker paints (like oils from a tube hit the art scene in the early 60’s. Helen Frankenthaler Orange Underline 1963 acrylic on canvas 55x71 inches
So Frankenthaler continued in this direction and her art was characterized by large blobby fields of color. Eventually with help from some pals and acrylic paints she helped begin the Color Field painting movement in the 60’s. Helen Frankenthaler Coalition 1968 acrylic on canvas 83x75 inches
Grace Hartigan Grand Street Brides, 1954 Oil on Canvas 72x102” Whitney Museum of Art Hartigan was yet another hot-chick artist that hung around with deKooning, Pollock and Clement Greenberg. An artist working as a model, she admitted a complete lack of talent in the drawing area, but was lauded for her imagination and expression. Hartigan never gave up the representational aspects of her paintings like the other Abstract Expressionists and her early works…well… looked like this... This piece was inspired by mannequins in a NYC department store window. She stated her desire to try to capture the "vulgar and vital in modern American life“ Grace Hartigan
Hartigan Inclement Weather 1970 Hartigan Essex and Hester Red 1958 Oil on Canvas Grace Hartigan Woman with Red Flower, 1956 Oil on Canvas
Modern Cycle 1967 Oil on Canvas Smithsonian American Art Museum Hartigan was another artist that continued making pretty great art into her twilight years. This one totally reminds me of ‘Happy Days’.