Diabolo (neige et fleurs); Diabolo (Snow and Flowers)

Joan Mitchell (American, 1925-1992)

Currently on View in K405
Image Licensing

Areas of heavily applied yellow, red, blue, and green paint vibrate behind and on top of a primarily white canvas. The title, Diabolo (neige et fleurs), refers to snow (neige) and flowers (fleurs) in French, evoking an abstract winter landscape in which bright flowers emerge from under a blanket of snow.

Like Lee Krasner (whose work Towards One is on view in this gallery), Joan Mitchell was one of only a few female Abstract Expressionist artists. Mitchell, too, emerged as a principal figure, achieving recognition for her expansive, intense, and emotionally charged paintings. Her dynamic compositions and impasto paint reveal the presence of the artist, calling the viewer’s attention to the physical act of painting.

Indianapolis Museum of Art: Highlights of the Collection (2005)

This abstract painting, which belongs to Joan Mitchell's Sans Neige (Without snow) series, displays Mitchell's desire to interpret landscape in terms of brilliant colors and energetic, thickly layered gestural brushwork. Broad circular areas of yellow, blue, red, and green paint in the upper and middle portions of the canvas suggest bright flowers popping up through a thick blanket of white snow. Painting the canvas in an upright position, Mitchell allowed the wet paint to drip toward the floor, creating long vertical streaks throughout the composition. Both the dynamic brushstrokes and the vertical patterns of dripping paint reveal the presence of the artist by alerting the viewer to the physical act of painting.

During the 1950s, Mitchell, a second-generation Abstract Expressionist, participated actively in the New York art world, showing her work in important exhibitions at the Stable Gallery. She frequented the Cedar Bar, a famous meeting place for artists and writers, where she befriended Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline, who, along with the early modernists Paul Cézanne and Vincent van Gogh, became crucial influences on her work. In 1959, after living between New York and France for several years, Mitchell moved permanently to the French village of Vétheuil. Her extensive gardens there provided endless inspiration for her paintings.

I do not want to improve [Nature]. . . . I could certainly never mirror it. I would like more to paint what it leaves me with.
-Joan Mitchell

Ann M. and Chris Stack, Indianapolis, Indiana; given to the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 1998.

Object Information

Joan Mitchell (American, 1925-1992)
creation date
oil on canvas
102-3/8 x 70-3/4 in.
104-1/2 x 72-7/8 x 2-1/2 in. (framed)
mark descriptions
Signed in pencil l.l.: Joan Mitchell
accession number
credit line
Gift of Ann M. and Chris Stack In honor of Holly Day, former Senior Curator of Contemporary Art
© Estate of Joan Mitchell
Contemporary Art

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