About This Artwork

Joan Mitchell
American, 1925-1992

City Landscape, 1955

Oil on linen
203.2 x 203.2 cm (80 x 80 in.), unframed
Signed: recto: "J. Mitchell" (lower right in black paint); not inscribed on verso

Gift of Society for Contemporary American Art, 1958.193

© The Estate of Joan Mitchell

A member of the first generation of Abstract Expressionists, Joan Mitchell was known for painting big, light-filled abstractions, animated by loosely applied skeins of bright color, infused with the energy and excitement of a large metropolis. In City Landscape, a tangle of pale pink, scarlet, mustard, sienna, and black hues threatens to coagulate or erupt. The title suggests that this ganglion of pigments evokes the nerves or arteries of a city. The sense of spontaneity conveyed in City Landscape belies Mitchell’s methods. Unlike many of her contemporaries, who were dubbed action painters, Mitchell worked slowly and deliberately. “I paint a little,” she said. “Then I sit and look at the painting, sometimes for hours. Eventually, the painting tells me what to do.”

— Permanent collection label

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Minneapolis, Walker Art Center, Vanguard 1955: A Painter’s Selection of New American Paintings, Oct. 23–Dec. 5, 1955, cat. 39 (incorrectly titled Painting).

Art Institute of Chicago, 18th Annual Society for Contemporary American Art Exhibition, May 8–June 8, 1958, cat. 23.

Art Institute of Chicago, 26th Annual Exhibition by the Society for Contemporary American Art, Apr. 8–May 10, 1966, no cat. no.

Art Institute of Chicago, Art in Illinois, In Honor of the Illinois Sesquicentennial, June 15–Sept. 8, 1968, no cat. no.

Washington, D. C., Corcoran Gallery of Art, Joan Mitchell, Feb. 27–May 1, 1988, no cat. no.; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, May 26–July 17, 1988; Buffalo, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Sept. 17–Nov. 6, 1988; La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, Dec. 2, 1988–Jan. 29, 1989; Ithaca, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Feb. 26–Apr. 23, 1989.

Art Institute of Chicago, Twelve Contemporary Masters, May 10–June 14, 1992, no cat. no.

New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, The Paintings of Joan Mitchell, June 20–Sept. 29, 2002; cat. 6; Birmingham Museum of Art, June 27–Aug. 31, 2003; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Sept. 21, 2003–Jan. 7, 2004; Des Moines Art Center, Jan. 31–Apr. 25, 2004, (New York, Birmingham, and Fort Worth only).

Publication History

Walker Art Center, Vanguard 1955: A Painter’s Selection of New American Paintings, exh. cat. (Walker Art Center, 1955), n.pag., cat. 39 (ill., incorrectly titled Painting).

Art Institute of Chicago, 18th Annual Society for Contemporary American Art Exhibition, exh. checklist (Society for Contemporary Art, 1958), n.pag., cat. 23.

Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings in the Art Institute of Chicago: A Catalogue of the Picture Collection (Art Institute of Chicago, 1961), p. 315.

Art Institute of Chicago, 26th Annual Exhibition by the Society for Contemporary American Art, exh. cat. (Society for Contemporary Art, 1966), n.pag. (ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago, Art in Illinois, In Honor of the Illinois Sesquicentennial, exh. checklist (Art Institute of Chicago, 1968), p. 8.

Franz Schulze, Society for Contemporary Art The Art Institute of Chicago: 1940-1980, exh. cat. (Art Institute of Chicago, 1980), pp. 24 (ill.); 26; 31 (ill.); 51 (ill.).

Judith E. Bernstock, Joan Mitchell, exh. cat. (Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, 1988) pp. 31; 32 (color ill.); 33; 35.

Dennis Adrian, From America’s Studio: The School of the Art Institute of Chicago Two Exhibitions of Works by Alumni 125th Annniversary Exhibition, exh. cat. (School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 1992), p. 61.

Michel Waldberg, Joan Mitchell (Éditions de la Différence, 1992), p. 16.

James N. Wood and Teri J. Edelstein, The Art Institute of Chicago: Twentieth-Century Painting and Sculpture (Hudson Hills Press, 1996), p. 107 (color ill.).

Robert Miller Gallery, Joan Mitchell: Paintings 1956 to 1958, exh. cat. (New York, Robert Miller Gallery, 1996), n.pag.

Klaus Kertess, Joan Mitchell (Harry N. Abrams, 1997), pp. 180, 181.

Hal Fondren, Joan Mitchell: Paintings 1950 to 1955, exh. cat. (Robert Miller Gallery, 1998), n.pag. (color ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago, Master Paintings in the Art Institute of Chicago, selected by James N. Wood, 2nd ed. (Art Institute of Chicago/Hudson Hills Press, 1999), p. 152 (color ill.).

James N. Wood, Society for Contemporary Art: 1940–2000, 60th Anniversary, exh. cat. (Society for Contemporary Art, 2000), pp. 4; 68 (color ill.); 69 (color ill.); 106.

Jane Livingston, Joan Mitchell, exh. cat. (Whitney Museum of American Art, 2002), p. 22; 23; 90; 91, pl. 6 (color ill.); 198.

Jay A. Clarke and Joanna E. Ziegler, eds., The Spiritual Landscapes of Adrienne Farb: 1980-2006, with contributions by Christopher A. Dustin, Roger Hankins, Erin Murray, and Charlotte Nalle Eyerman, exh. cat. (Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery, College of the Holy Cross, 2006), pp. 43, fig 3 (color ill.); 44.

Sister Wendy Beckett, “City Landscape,” Sister Wendy’s American Art Collection, accessed May 3, 2016 (color ill.) http://pbs.org/wgbh/sisterwendy/works/cit.html.

Art Institute of Chicago, Master Paintings in the Art Institute of Chicago, selected by James Cuno, 3rd ed. (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2009), p. 152 (color ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago: The Essential Guide, 3rd ed. (Art Institute of Chicago, 2009), n.pag. (color ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago: The Essential Guide, 4th ed. (Art Institute of Chicago, 2013), p. 134 (color ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago, Master Paintings in the Art Institute of Chicago, selected by Douglas Druick, 4th ed. (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2013) p. 152 (color ill.).

Ownership History

Stable Gallery, New York, by 1958; sold to the Art Institute, 1958.




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