Joan Mitchell Is Having A Moment

Monday, June 11, 2018

Joan Mitchell is Having a Moment

About a month after the late abstract artist’s $16.6 million breakout at Christie’s, at least nine of her paintings estimated to top $70 million are headed to Art Basel, the world’s largest modern and contemporary art fair, opening next week in the Swiss city.

“It’s her moment to shine,” said Alberto Mugrabi, a collector and private art dealer, who bought a 1960s Mitchell painting in Basel in 2014. It was priced at $1.5 million. “She’s a phenomenal artist, and people recognize it more and more.”

Mitchell, an Abstract Expressionist, was among just a few female members of the postwar New York School, whose male counterparts included Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Willem de Kooning. Yet her prices have been eclipsed by those artists. Hedge fund titan Ken Griffin paid $500 million in 2015 for two paintings by de Kooning and Pollock. Rothko’s auction record is $86.9 million.

“As the art world looks back at male-dominated narratives, Mitchell is now gaining deeper recognition for her skill, persistence and depth of vision throughout her lifetime,” said Christa Blatchford, chief executive officer of the Joan Mitchell Foundation in New York.

Museums and collectors worldwide are seeking out artists who’ve been overlooked and undervalued, many of them female or black. The Mitchell estate recently migrated to the influential David Zwirner Gallery, boosting the market for her paintings.

There are plans for a major museum survey of Mitchell’s work in 2020, said David Leiber, a partner at Zwirner. It will be the first such show since 2002. The gallery is bringing Mitchell’s untitled 1958 oil on canvas to Basel with a $7.5 million asking price...


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