Joan Mitchell Biography

Joan Mitchell




Joan Mitchell was born in Chicago on February 12, 1925. She was the daughter of James Herbert Mitchell and Marion Strobel, co-editor with Harriet Monroe of Poetry magazine. As a child, she came to know T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Thornton Wilder, Dylan Thomas, and others as visitors to the family home.

As a young woman in Chicago, Mitchell became acquainted with the great paintings by Cezanne, Matisse and others. She was a graduate of Smith College and later attended the art school of the Art Institute of Chicago, after which she moved to New York.

Thanks to the $2,000.00 that came with an Edward L. Ryerson traveling fellowship from the Art Institute, she spent a year in France between 1948 and 1949, working first in Paris and later in Le Lavandou in Provence. While in France, she married Barney Rosset, the founder of the Grove Press publishing house.

Back in New York in 1950, Mitchell soon became accepted as a promising member of the downtown art scene. One of the few women to be admitted to membership in the influential Artists' Club, she participated in 1951 in the "Ninth Street Show" organized by the Club and supervised by Leo Castelli.

By the mid-1950s, her work was admired by some of the best judges of the day. In 1957 she took part in "Artists of the New York School: Second Generation," organized at the Jewish Museum by Meyer Schapiro and introduced by Leo Steinberg.

A return to Paris in 1955, three years after her divorce from Mr. Rosset, led to a gradual withdrawal from New York and an ever-increasing identification with life in France. This was reinforced by her acquaintanceship with the painter Jean-Paul Riopelle, who was to be her companion from 1955 until 1979.

After the death of her mother in 1967, Mitchell inherited enough money to buy a two-acre estate in France above Vetheuil, a little town on the Seine that is best known for the residence of Claude Monet. She lived there permanently from 1968 until her death on October 30,1992.


New York Times obituary: