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Joan Mitchell, Piano mécanique, 1958, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Addie and Sidney Yates

Piano mécanique, Mitchell

Mitchell was a leading figure in the group of artists known as the second generation of abstract expressionists. In this painting, the bold, animated lines against a white ground capture Mitchell’s spontaneous and impulsive painting method. She often drew upon childhood memories of Lake Michigan when composing paintings, some of which she called “expressionist landscapes.” Because they are totally abstract, the viewer is invited to connect to her works on an emotional level.