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Joan Mitchell: Lady Painter Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 3, 2011
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"Patricia Albers has written a book about Mitchell that I cannot imagine will ever be improved upon, so graceful and incisive is her account of the artist's hellbent life and lyric art."
(New York Times)
"Like Mitchell's vast canvases, Albers's impressive book ought to be experienced in the morning, 'for it can animate the entire day.'" (New Yorker)
"No complete account of Mitchell's life could be pleasant. Albers...doesn't flinch. Her thoroughly researched book details Mitchell's alcoholism, depression, sexual exploits, foul-mouthed arguments, violent outbursts and general rudeness. Angry artists aren't exactly rare, but Mitchell is surely in the hall of champions." (Los Angeles Times)
"Electrifying. . .Patricia Albers emulates Mitchell’s painterly mission to conjoin "accuracy and intensity" in this transfixing and justly revealing portrait."
"Patricia Albers vividly chronicles the artist’s journey from her wealthy upbringing in Chicago to her defiant student days at Smith College, and as a young painter at the Art Institute of Chicago. . . Vibrantly written and carefully researched. . . Albers constructs a fluid, energetic narrative of Mitchell’s complicated life and work."
About the Author
Patricia Albers is the author of Shadows, Fire, Snow: The Life of Tina Modotti. Her articles have appeared in newspapers, art journals, and museum catalogs. She has curated many exhibitions, among them Tina Modotti and the Mexican Renaissance. She lives in Mountain View, California.
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Top Customer Reviews
tough-talking, often crude, and insensitive person who was also a painter of great depth and beauty. Her large lyrical abstracts (she was an important member of the 'Second Generation' Abstract Expressionists) continue to influence young painters today. Albers has taken the time to understand and describe the paradoxical personality that was Mitchell - - her unique ability to 'hear' colors in poetry and music - - and to imbue this knowledge into her work - - and Mitchell's often self-destrutctive behavior. Albers describes what the 'art scene' was like in downtown New York in the 50s and the toll it took on serious women artists. Mitchell's exile to France in the second part of her life describes these highly productive years for the artist despite her alcoholism and declining health.
But there's no question she was one of our greatest painters. I think that's now generally acknowledged - she's up there with Pollack and Warhol even if she lacks their celebrity. And her work, though abstract, is autobiographical: her titles typically make reference to the people and places and dogs she loved. That's why I read the bio, to get an idea of where these gorgeous paintings were coming from. I read Albers' bio with the monograph from her 2002 Whitney retrospective alongside, seeking insight into the paintings, and put to that use, the bio has good points and bad.
Albers is very good on Mitchell's influences - music, art, landscape - it's nice to know exactly what music Mitchell listened to as she worked on a painting. And she is insightful about Mitchell's eidetic memory and certain aspects of her perceptive faculties that synthesized color and concept and sound.
But Albers seems a little out of her depth when it comes to the formal and technical aspects of painting. When she describes Mitchell's work she tends to be brief and to swoon and rely on clichés of art appreciation. Avoiding critical discussion of Mitchell's art, Albers returns us yet again to the ugly soap opera of her life.
Still and all, I think this biography is fair, and I finished it with a better, sadder sense of who this wonderful painter was.
There is some serious stuff in this book, so if you are serious about Joan - get it.
She knew De Kooning and was a close friend of his wife, Elaine. She could chew the scenery at the Cedar Bar with the best of the crowd of artists who argued about life and art in New York.
A great read!