Joan Mitchell

Joan Mitchell was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1925 and died in a Paris suburb in 1992. Her expatriate years began in the late 1950s and continued uninterrupted until her passing in Vetheuil, France. She occupied a celebrated stature in the generation that succeeded Pollock and Rothko. She declined the theoreticism of her European counterparts, and remained throughout her career the empirical American, personally accountable for her memories and emotions. Her work is characterized in many developments from the 1950s to the early 90s shortly prior to her passing. She usually worked on multiple panels or large scale canvases – striving to attract a natural rather than constructed rhythm from the composition, a rhythm emanating from the expansiveness of the gesture or from the unrestrained use of color and the pervasive luminosity. The titles of her last paintings suggest the abstract valleys and empirical fields of her beloved French countryside.

In speaking of Mitchell, others tell us of her physical materiality – how she exudes the visual sentiments of nature – the objectivity of her painting, devoid of anecdote or theater and in her own words “to convey the feeling of the dying sunflower.” Joan Mitchell as an abstract expressionist composes with long curvilinear strokes or broad stains of color, contrasting warm and cool, often on unprimed canvases. Her perceptions enrich her work with a fascinating sense of the unfinished. Joan Mitchell demonstrated in painting just as in life, anything can happen.


Urban Art at The Tate Modern London

On Tuesday I went to The Tate Modern again and again I went with someone so I couldn’t enjoy it as much as I would have liked.

Anyway, they have an Urban Art exhibition on the outside walls, which was amazing.  I was wondering how they got them up there because they are so big.

But as you see they did look great.

Evry time I go to The Tate I see something I didn’t see the last time and so far I have only managed to visit one floor.  I am really looking forward to the Rothko exhibition in September though.  Unfortunately, they had taken all the Rothko paintings away for the exhibition and replaced them with some rubbish that I really didn’t understand.  Plus the fact that I went with someone who really wasn’t interested in art at all, so that made it even more difficult, but nevertheless I enjoyed almost everything and I kind of switch off anyway when I am looking at this.

As usual I spent a long time enjoying the Pollocks’ namely Birth and Summertime.

Yesterday, I joined in my first group exhibition with the local artists society, but I think my work was a little too contemporary for the crowd there.  One of the participants asked me ‘How long did it take you to do?’.  I answered but I thought about the question afterwards and thought what a stupid question.  Who cares?  If you like something do you think about how long it took to paint?

She also said it was too expensive and by this time I was getting rather pissed in both the English and the American sense, and I just told her that the frame cost more than most of the paintings there.  After that I made my exit.

William Baziotes – Abstract Expressionist

William Baziotes, was born in Pittsburgh June 11th, 1912.  His parents were Greek.  From 1931 to 1933 he worked at Case Glass company in Reading, Pennsylvania, where he was painting glass and running general errands.  He attended evening sketch classes and it was here that he met his lifelong friend Byron Vazakas, who was a poet.  Vazakas introduced Baziotes to the Symbolist poets and to Charles Baudelaire.  It was in 1931 that Baziotes saw the Henri Matisse exhibition at MoMA in New York and decided to move to New York to study painting. 


In 1936 Baziotes exhibited for the first time in a group showing at the Municipal Art gallery in New York and gained employment for the WPA as an art teacher at the Queens Museum. He met the Surrealist émigrés in New York in the late 1930s and early 1940s, and by 1940 knew Jimmy Ernst, Matta, and Gordon Onslow-Ford. He began to experiment with Surrealist automatism at this time. In 1941, Matta introduced Baziotes to Robert Motherwell, with whom he formed a close friendship. André Masson invited Baziotes to participate with Motherwell, David Hare, and others in the 1942 exhibition First Papers of Surrealism at the Whitelaw Reid Mansion in New York. In 1943, he took part in two group shows at Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of This Century, New York, where his first solo exhibition was held the following year. With Hare, Motherwell, and Mark Rothko, Baziotes founded the Subjects of the Artist school in New York in 1948. Over the next decade, Baziotes held a number of teaching positions in New York: at the Brooklyn Museum Art School and at New York University from 1949 to 1952; at the People’s Art Center, the Museum of Modern Art, from 1950 to 1952; and at Hunter College from 1952 to 1962. Baziotes died in New York on June 6, 1963. A memorial exhibition of his work was presented at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, in 1965.

Awesome Exhibitions at The Tate Modern

I have just become aware of these two exhibitions in London, mainly because I don’t visit that often.  I know that if I had checked it out earlier I would have been commuting to see these rather than go to work.  I would rather do that and probably be a lot happier but there you go.

Cy Twombly

Tate Modern presents a major exhibition of works by Cy Twombly, one of the most highly regarded painters working today and a foremost figure among the generation of American artists that includes Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol. Twombly rose to prominence through a distinctive style characterised by scribbles and vibrantly daubed paint. This is his first solo retrospective in fifteen years, and provides an overview of his work from the 1950s to now.

Twombly emerged as a painter at the height of Abstract Expressionism, then in 1957 he left America for Italy, where he drew inspiration from European literature and classical culture. At the heart of the exhibition is Twombly’s work exploring the cycles associated with seasons, nature and the passing of time. Several key groups are brought together for the first time, such as Tate’s Four Seasons 1993–4 with those from the Museum of Modern Art, New York. The exhibition also explores how Twombly is influenced by antiquity, myth and the Mediterranean, for example the violent red swirls in the Bacchus 2005 paintings which bring to mind the drunken god of wine.

Mark Rothko

26 September – 1st February 2009

Mark Rothko Mural for End Wall (Untitled) [Seagram Mural] 1959 National Gallery of Art, Washington Gift of the Mark Rothko Foundation Inc.

Mark Rothko Mural for End Wall (Untitled) [Seagram Mural] 1959 National Gallery of Art, Washington Gift of the Mark Rothko Foundation Inc.

This exhibition provides a unique opportunity to see the full range of Twombly’s long and influential career from a fresh perspective.

Tate Modern presents an exhibition by one of the world’s most famous and best-loved artists, Mark Rothko. This is the first significant exhibition of his work to be held in the UK for over 20 years.

Tate Modern’s iconic ‘Rothko Room’ works are reunited for the first time with works from Japan. The Seagram Murals were originally commissioned for The Four Seasons Restaurant in the Seagram Building New York.

Rothko’s iconic paintings, composed of luminous, soft-edged rectangles saturated with colour, are among the most enduring and mysterious created by an artist in modern times. In the exhibition his paintings glow meditatively from the walls in deep dark reds, oranges, maroons, browns, blacks, and greys.

The exhibition will also focus on other work in series, such as the Black-Form paintings, his large-scale Brown and Grey works on paper, and his last series of Black on Grey paintings, created in the final decade of his life from 1958-1970.

Rothko is the must-see exhibition of the year – book your tickets now to avoid missing out.

Revealed: $72.8m Rockefeller Rothko has gone to Qatar

I absolutely love Rothko, so simple yet so emotional.  When I visit Teh Tate Modern in London I always spend hours in the Rothko Room, gazing at his masterpieces.

I just came across this in The Art Newspaper, obviously another great admirer.  If you like Emir of Qatar, I will sell you acouple of my paintings and discount price.  Maybe $50m.

The Emir of Qatar and his wife have also spent $52.7m on a Francis Bacon and £9.7m on a Damien Hirst

Qatar’s ruling Al-Thani family is the mystery buyer of Mark Rothko’s White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose), 1950, which sold at Sotheby’s New York on 15 May 2007 for $72.8m—setting a record for the highest price ever paid for a work of post-war art at auction. The painting was consigned by David Rockefeller.

A well placed source in Qatar has revealed that the Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, and his wife, Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al-Missned, also purchased Francis Bacon’s Study from Innocent X for $52.7m at the same Sotheby’s sale. Although Sotheby’s does not disclose information about its clients, both purchases have been independently confirmed by The Art Newspaper.

The Al-Thani family has been a major collector of Islamic art for several years but it has not previously been known to buy European and American work at this level.

We can also reveal that other recent purchases include Damien Hirst’s Lullaby Spring for which the Qataris paid £9.7m at Sotheby’s London in June 2007, setting an auction record for a work by a living European artist. The 2002 sculpture, which consists of painted and cast pills displayed in a steel and glass cabinet, is now installed in Doha amid a growing collection of modern and contemporary art.

The entry of the Al-Thanis into this market is part of a global movement of high-end works of art from West to East as American and European collectors—encouraged by the resilience of the top end of the market in the face of uncertainty in the financial sectors—consign works to auction which are increasingly going to new collectors in the Gulf region, the ex-Soviet republics and China.

In a statement released in February which describes its results for 2007, Sotheby’s president and chief executive officer Bill Ruprecht said: “In 2003 our top buyers—purchasing lots of $500,000 and above—came from 36 countries; in 2007 they came from 58 countries.”

Another factor is the construction of an outpost of the Guggenheim on an island adjacent to Abu Dhabi. This is scheduled to open in 2012. Zaki Nusseibeh, culture advisor to the Emirate, says the museum has a “potentially unlimited” budget for acquisitions. A branch of the Louvre is also under construction.

As part of an investigation into record auction prices for living artists, we also reveal in our May issue that Jeff Koons’s Hanging Heart (Magenta/ Gold), 1994-2006, which currently holds the record for the most expensive work by a living artist to sell at auction, was purchased for $23.6m by Ukrainian collector Victor Pinchuk. It was consigned to auction by New York collector Adam Lindemann. The Peter Doig painting, White Canoe, 1990-91, sold by British collector Charles Saatchi in February 2007 went to Georgian mining magnate, Boris Ivanishvili.