Joan Mitchell (American, 1925-1992), Untitled (Triptych)1975-1976. Intimate Love Paintings. Estimate: £250,000 – 350,000 ($400,000 – 560,000). Image courtesy of Bonhams
LONDON– On Friday October 17, two untitled Joan Mitchell oil abstractions valued at £250,000 – 350,000 ($400,000 – 560,000) and £100,000 – 150,000 ($160,000 – 240,000) respectively, will be key features at Bonhams Post-War & Contemporary Art auction in London. Bonhams auctioneers are excited about the opportunity to bring the artworks of this celebrated artist to auction. Ralph Taylor, Head of Bonhams’ Post-War and Contemporary Department, notes that ‘We are delighted to have the opportunity to offer two unseen triptychs from the 1970s by the world’s pre-eminent female painter, Joan Mitchell.’
There are great reasons for the excitement at Bonhams Auction House for the opportunity to put Joan Mitchell’s work on auction. In the past three decades, Mitchell has proven that she is a star of the art world as her works continue to attract record auction prices. In the commercial art market, Mitchell towers over other female artists. Suzanne Gyorgy, global head of art advisory and finance at Citi Private Bank gave credence to Mitchell’s rise when testified recently that Mitchell’s works hang prominently in many ‘serious collector’s home.’ As further prove of her rise in the art world, her 1960 untitled painting just set a new record auction price for any female artist at $11.9 million.
The story around the paintings is another reason Bonhams Auctioneers are so thrilled about the auction of Joan Mitchell’s paintings. Besides the growing import of Mitchell in the art space, the Bonhams art sale reveals the impact of friends and long bonding relationship between the artist and her dear friend Patricia Molloy. Mitchell gifted the paintings, which captures the beauty and intensity of their passionate relationship, to Molloy who lived with Mitchell as a tenant in her little studio-apartment at 60 St Mark’s Place in the mid-1960s. The one-room flat with ‘fourteen-foot ceilings’ and ‘north light from three windows overlooking the street,’ was their abode for many years. So treasured was this space that when Mitchell eventually moved out, Molloy stayed on and took over the lease.
The friendship between Mitchell and Molloy was particularly rewarding as it helped fostered Mitchell artistic career. While they lived together in that East Village brownstone, Molloy became a fixture in Mitchell’s life, inspiring her in life and art for 15 years. It is not surprising, therefore, that along with the two paintings for sale at Bonhams, Mitchell also gave a fervently written letter which bears witness to Molloy’s importance to the creative process:
‘You made me paint – you always have – am I clear? Even if I shut you up and put you down. Glad you’re here, J.’
Alongside Joan Mitchell’s unseen triptychs, the art auction will also include stunning and monumental masterworks by the Spanish artist Miquel Barcelo, a Mobile by Post-War great Alexander Calder, a delicate work on paper by Wols and two abstract oils from Gerhard Richter. Also included in the Bonhams Post-War & Contemporary Art auction in London are high quality artworks from the most highly sought-after artists of the moment, including JR, Walead Beshty, Jacob Kassay, Christion Rosa, David Ostrowski, Os Gemeos and Banksy, amongst many others. The collection of great of works for this art auction Taylor notes, is ‘further evidence of the great strength in depth that we are able to offer in Post-War & Contemporary Art at Bonhams.’
While the Post-War & Contemporary Art at Bonhams in London tomorrow is generating a lot of excitement because of the amazing collection of masterpieces by famous artists, including Miquel Barcelo, Alexander Calder, Wols , Gerhard Richter, JR, Walead Beshty, Jacob Kassay, Christion Rosa, David Ostrowski, Os Gemeos and Banksy, the focus is on Joan Mitchell’s paintings. The excitement is not just because of the outstanding quality of the paintings, but also because they reveal a personal side of the artist. The larger painting, for instance, is a rendering of the artist’s internal emotions. Characterized by unsecure tumult of marks, from tangerine and sienna brown through deep-sea green, icy blues and whites, it reveals a wonderful outpourings of disordered emotion, capturing the profound feeling between the artist and her companion.