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White Territory

Joan Mitchell

Artwork Details

White Territory
Joan Mitchell
oil on canvas
9 ft. 3 1/2 in. x 7 ft. 4 in. (283.21 x 223.52 cm);9 ft. 3 1/2 in. x 7 ft. 4 in. x 2 1/8 in. (283.21 x 223.52 x 5.4 cm)
Purchase assisted by the Friends of the Museum of Art and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts


March 28, 2009
Mitchell left New York for France in 1955, living first in Paris and finally settling in the late 1960s in Vétheuil, a tiny river village about an hour northwest of Paris. Like the winter landscapes Claude Monet (1840–1926) painted in the same vicinity, including The Breakup of the Ice, on view on the first floor, White Territory is an impression of a landscape. Mitchell aimed to convey the landscape as affected by what the artist called “internal weather,” meaning her personal associations and poetic sensibility. White Territory was first shown in an upstate New York exhibition of her works called “My Five Years in the Country,” a reference to her self-imposed exile in Vétheuil.
Joan Mitchell was a leading artist of the second-generation New York School, the close-knit community of abstract painters who were profoundly influenced by Abstract Expressionism and followed on the stylistic and technical innovations of this first generation, especially the work of Willem de Kooning, Arshile Gorky, and Franz Kline.

Subject Matter:

In "White Territory," the title of the work along with its gestural brushwork strongly evoke the memory or sensation of a landscape. It is a reflection upon personal associations and inner domains that the artist calls "internal weather."

Physical Description:

This abstract painting is primarily white with a large squarish area of dark green in the top left quadrant. Loose brushwork varies from wide, full strokes to the short, rapid strokes at the compositions center. Pigment application ranges from a very thin wash to heavy impasto.

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