Joan Mitchell

Joan Mitchell

Cous-cous, 1961-1962

oil on canvas

78 3/4 in. x 119 3/4 in.


Gift of Sam and May Gruber


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As you look at this painting by Joan Mitchell, what kind of sensations do you feel? What sorts of emotions do the colors and brush strokes evoke for you? For me, the varying thicknesses of brush strokes and vibrant opposing colors create a feeling of movement appearing as though the densely applied colors at the center of the canvas are quickly dispersing outwards. Mitchell, one of the leading abstract expressionist, and few women in the group, sought to bring a poetic, organic and living quality to her work, creating emotion through abstraction. This canvas though seemingly composed of random brush strokes is actually quite organized, creating a poetic tension between order and disorder. This for me mimics how we, humans interact with the world around us.