Joan Mitchell

September 4, 2021–January 17, 2022
Floor 5

The painter Joan Mitchell has long been hailed as a formidable creative force. She first attained critical acclaim and success in the male-dominated abstract expressionist circles of 1950s New York, then spent over three decades in France creating distinctive abstract paintings that pulse with energy and color and draw on landscape, memory, poetry, and music.

With its world premiere at SFMOMA and co-organized with the Baltimore Museum of Art, Joan Mitchell is a comprehensive retrospective featuring over eighty distinguished works. This exhibition includes rarely seen early paintings and drawings that established Mitchell’s career, along with large-scale multi-panel masterpieces from her later years that demonstrate her mastery of color. Suites of paintings, sketchbooks, and drawings, as well as an illuminating selection of the artist’s letters and photographs, open a new window into the richness, range, and ambition of Mitchell’s deeply influential and barrier-breaking creative practice.


Exhibition Preview

Joan Mitchell, Untitled, 1992; Komal Shah and Gaurav Garg Collection; © Estate of Joan Mitchell
Joan Mitchell, City Landscape, 1955; collection Art Institute of Chicago; © Estate of
Joan Mitchell; photo: Aimee Marshall
Joan Mitchell, To the Harbormaster, 1957; private collection; © Estate of Joan Mitchell; photo: Tony Prikryl
Joan Mitchell, My Landscape II, 1967; collection Smithsonian Museum of Art; © Estate of Joan Mitchell
Joan Mitchell, Sans neige, 1969; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, gift of the Hillman Foundation; © Estate of Joan Mitchell
Joan Mitchell, Belle Bête, 1973; private collection; © Estate of Joan Mitchell
Joan Mitchell, Bracket, 1989; The Doris and Donald Fisher Collection at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; © Estate of Joan Mitchell


Abstract painter Stanley Whitney reflects on Mitchell’s vast canvases



Presenting support for Joan Mitchell is provided by the Henry Luce Foundation and Helen and Charles Schwab.

Major support is provided by Richard and Mary Jo Kovacevich, the Joan Mitchell Foundation, Sanford Robertson, and the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Generous support is provided by the Bernard and Barbro Osher Exhibition Fund, Komal Shah and Gaurav Garg and the Wyeth Foundation for American Art.

Image, “A Conversation About Joan Mitchell” thumbnail: Joan Mitchell at La Tour, Vétheuil, France, 1984. Joan Mitchell Foundation Archives, New York.© Édouard Boubat