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Joan Mitchell: Portrait of an Abstract Painter (1993)

6.4
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A powerful and intimate portrait, JOAN MITCHELL: PORTRAIT OF AN ABSTRACT PAINTER captures Mitchell's independent spirit and testifies eloquently to Mitchell's art. One of the great abstract... See full summary »

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Title: Joan Mitchell: Portrait of an Abstract Painter (1993)

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A powerful and intimate portrait, JOAN MITCHELL: PORTRAIT OF AN ABSTRACT PAINTER captures Mitchell's independent spirit and testifies eloquently to Mitchell's art. One of the great abstract painters of the 20th century, Mitchell was an active participant of New York's dynamic Abstract Expressionist scene and hung out with fellow painters Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning and Philip Guston, as well as poets Frank O'Hara, James Schuyler and John Ashbery. In the mid-fifties, she moved to Paris, where she was part of a circle of friends that included Pierre Matisse, Samuel Beckett and Alberto Giacometti. This elegantly edited documentary weaves together interviews with the acerbic Mitchell and other leading painters and critics, while letting her stunning pictures dominate the film. Stephen Holden of the New York Times says, "The canvases have grand chaotic romanticism. While celebrating the physical universe with an ecstatic love of color, they don't shy away from expressing a harsh, feral ... Written by Anonymous

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14 April 1993 (USA)  »

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Joan Mitchell 101
30 July 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

A well put together documentary about an important but not very well known artist. More than half the time goes to Mitchell talking about her work, backed up by statements from others (notably Brice Marden and a few of her dealers) who understood and sympathized with the work and the person.

Mitchell is presented as someone who took herself and her work very seriously--probably more seriously than the art establishment or the public. The focus is on her art. Her demons--alcoholism, bouts of cancer--for the most part go unexamined and unmentioned.

Mitchell's work itself overall is tough to like, yet some of the pieces shown in this film are beautiful beyond description. Her vividly colored, wildly eccentric paintings appear throughout. If you're curious about how she came to paint as she did and what she thought she was doing, you probably couldn't do much better than to watch this film. The same may be true if you're simply interested in hearing from an artist who, while not exactly articulate, is good at plain talk.


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