The Cover

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Jan Rabaey chose for the cover the third panel of the triptych "Wet Orange" 
by Abstract Expressionist 
JOAN MITCHELL(1926-1992).

See entire painting here

Throughout her life, Joan Mitchell, daughter of poet, alluded to poetry as the art form most nearly like her own. Lyricism is what she admired, whether in the poetry of the nineteenth-century Romantics or the painting of Jackson Pollock. Her work consistently addressed the evocation of feelings. The specific subject that called up that feeling was most often landscape. Or, perhaps a better term would be "inscape," an invention of the nineteenth-century English poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, who meant by it melody, as in music, and design and pattern, as in painting. The clear implication of abstraction in Hopkins's view is echoed by Mitchell in a statement made around the time Untitled was painted: "I paint from remembered landscapes that I carry with me-and remembered feelings of them, which of course become transformed."
From her early adolescence, Mitchell had plunged herself into a close study of the painters who moved her, building a painting culture that was fully amplified when, from 1944 to 1947, she studied at the Art Institute of Chicago. She was particularly affected by the intensity of Vincent van Gogh's landscapes and the great synthesizing of Paul Cezanne. In 1947, Mitchell spent some months in New York, where she was able to see the work of artists who were coming to the fore as adventurers in a new idiom that came to be called Abstract Expressionism. It was Arshile Gorky who most deeply influenced her, particularly his late works, in which he had thinned his paints, made effective use of the light of the bare canvas, and alluded to the natural forms he found in the fields and woods of Virginia. Shortly thereafter, Mitchell entered fully into the life of the vanguard New York painters, visiting the studios of Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning and Philip Guston, and becoming friendly with artists of her own generation who were clustered around Hans Hofmann.
With a quick visual intelligence, Mitchell absorbed the spirit of abstraction and the freely imaginative ways of composing typical of painting in New York during the 1950s, without ever losing her own distinct intention of transforming her memories of landscapes. If Gorky's long, elegantly curving lines, or de Kooning's emphatic accents on the rectilinear plane, or Pollock's arabesques were adapted to her needs, they never muffled Mitchell's own lyrical voice that spoke of water, sighing trees, skies, and light.
By the mid- 1950s, Mitchell's command of her means was evident. The light of the canvas, often left bare, was figured with coursing strokes that sometimes clustered, sometimes darted apart, creating an animated surface on which hints of foliage, trees, skies, and water were dispersed. Often, as in Untitled, Mitchell would shift from ambiguous spaces built with flurries of small strokes to boldly assertive spaces, measured off with emphatic bars-in this case, the black and red rectangular structures-fully articulating the illusion of recession. All the years of study, the keen appreciation of Cezanne, and her immersion in the work of forceful contemporaries had led her to a way that would articulate the strong lyrical feelings she harbored before nature. For the rest of her life, Mitchell would return to the authentic memories of places, such as her childhood home on Lake Michigan, in order to retrieve the peculiar heightening of feeling that characterizes the lyrical temperament.

DORE ASHTON