"Review of La Grande Vallee O"
Artist Joan Mitchell’s work, La Grande Vallee O, can be collectively described, as a successful example of expressionistic landscape painting. Her method was not to repaint nature but rather to recreate the landscape infusing her personal emotions and memories. As Nelson Goodman states, “the object before me is a man, a swarm of atoms, a complex of cells, a fiddler, a friend, a fool, and much more.” Because the artist cannot show all the ways a man is the artist shows the man as something (Barrett p64). Mitchell is not just painting hills and trees she is painting her memories and feelings about the hills and trees. This method best fits R.G. Collingwood’s more open definition of the expressionist theory of art. In Collingwood’s definition art is mental. The artist must express his or her raw emotion and transform those feelings into a communicative effort to the viewer.
In Mitchell’s work La Grande Vallee O she communicates her emotions to her viewers successfully through her almost primal application of paint to canvas. Sporadic brush strokes cover the canvas top to bottom, communicating a frenzy of emotion. The colors chosen: blues, greens, and yellows enhance the emotion and ambience of the painting. The colors swirl together as a breeze on a hot summer day. Subtle pink lashes show through, representing wild flowers that are peeking out from behind the tall grass. They are captured by the grass held captive from the viewer. Blues and yellows dictate the sun and the sky yet neither are representational. They are the feelings and emotions directly experienced by Mitchell.
In my opinion, the exact emotion that Mitchell felt when creating her paintings can ultimately communicate differently to the viewer. Mitchell herself did not mind that a viewer might interpret her paintings differently than she did. She states, “Other people don’t have to see what I do in my work” (Barrett 75). Being open to interpretation is a strong aspect of any artist and any work of art. In the expressionist view, it is the interpretation of the feelings that is the most important and irrelevant to the exact emotion communicated. The artist must successfully enter a communication with the viewer or it is not successful. The feelings transmitted are open to interpretation.
Bartlett, Terry. Why is that Art? New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. Print.
My name is Kristin Bradley. I am a photographer, designer, writer, avid reader, mother and constant artistic dabbler. This blog contains samples of my writing.