At Art Basel it was impossible not to notice the number of great pieces by the female abstract expressionist Joan Mitchell in all major galleries booths, all presented with a significant asking price. Namely, Bloomberg reported that galleries were expecting to move as much as $70 million in Mitchell works at the fair. And that estimate seems credible, as according to reports Hauser & Wirth placed Mitchell’s 1969 canvas Compostion with a European collection for $14 million; Lévy Gorvy of London and New York has sold Untitled (1959), which had an asking price of $14 million; and Zwirner sold a third Mitchell, Untitled (1958), for “in the region of its asking price,” which a fair representative said was $7.5 million.
Also following the artist breaking record of $16.6 million, set just last month at Christie’s New York with Blueberry (1969), is quite clear a dramatic uptick in market interest in Mitchell. But why is now time for this artist, so long almost ignored?
An interesting article at Artnet News have exposed the reasons for this sudden rising market for the artist, according to Baltimore Museum Curator Katy Siegel.
In fact, the celebrated Abstract Expressionist Joan Mitchell is now will also have a major retrospective at the Baltimore Museum of Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, starting in 2020. Organized by the BMA’s Katy Siegel and SFMOMA’s Sarah Roberts, the show will mark the first survey dedicated to Mitchell in the US in almost two decades, and promises to pawing the way for a reevaluation of her figure as a major painter. The show features 125 artworks including rarely seen paintings and works on paper, tracing the arc of her career from the early years in New York to large-scale multi-panel works made later on in France.
However, Siegel noticed at art net News that: “It’s not like she’s an undiscovered artist who people didn’t see,” “Joan Mitchell was working at an enormously high level for four decades, and people didn’t quite get it because she was a woman. I think people are ready to recognize her greatness.”
As an important member of the New York School, Mitchell achieved the type of success that eluded many of her female peers, becoming immediately recognized for her artistic talent, but yet somewhat eclipsed by her male counterparts in the decades since.
As Siegel added, “She is the last great, great artist of that generation who hasn’t been fully recognized or given her due. That’s partly because painting was out of fashion, but also because there’s been a really sexist and racist situation, where it was thought that big painting was being made by big white men,” “It’s really important that we’re able to see paintings now by people who are not the same 20 white men.”
Mitchell’s reputation also suffered, according to Siegel, because her work wasn’t conceptual, and focused instead on more everyday, approachable themes. “Music, poetry, feeling love for friends, dogs were the things that moved Mitchell, we are more open to valuing again.”
But now it seems really the right time for a well deserved revaluation, as the curator observed : ” The way art history was being written, no one wanted to see what your later work looked like. People wanted to see the first thing that was innovative or trendy and then they were onto the next thing… Now, audiences are becoming more willing to examine the full scope of an artist’s career. For Mitchell, that means late canvases “filled with color and experiment and athleticism,” said Siegel. “She was an amazing athlete, a competitive ice skater, diver, tennis player… it really looks like it could have been made yesterday!”
The BMA/SFMOMA show is Mitchell’s first US retrospective since “The Paintings of Joan Mitchell” at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art in 2002, a show that went on to appear at the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, and the Des Moines Art Center. While, overseas, the artist was already the subject of a 2015 retrospective at the Kunsthaus Bregenz in Austria that traveled to the Museum of Ludwig in Cologne.
The upcoming exhibition will open in Baltimore before touching down at SFMOMA in September 2020 and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York in February 2021. It will be double the size of the Whitney show.
So, we definitely suggest to keep an eye on this amazing artist!