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Joan Mitchell

Hemlock
1956

Not on view

Date
1956

Classification
Paintings

Medium
Oil on canvas

Dimensions
Overall: 91 × 80in. (231.1 × 203.2 cm)

Accession number
58.20

Credit line
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Friends of the Whitney Museum of American Art

Rights and reproductions
© Estate of Joan Mitchell

Joan Mitchell evoked landscape environments in many of her paintings, usually by conjuring physical sensations such as light, sound, and movement. In Hemlock, the variations of short and long brushstrokes as well as the alteration between flashes of blue or green paint and larger areas of milky white create a sense of rhythm and movement. The white paint appears both behind and on top of the other colors, which blurs the definition of foreground and background—a stylistic hallmark of Mitchell’s work throughout her career. Although the horizontal green slashes in Hemlock might bring to mind a hemlock tree, Mitchell titled the work after it was completed. The title derives from a passage in a 1916 Wallace Stevens poem, Domination of Black, which contains several references to hemlock, including: “Out of the window, / I saw how the planets gathered / Like the leaves themselves / Turning in the wind. / I saw how the night came, / Came striding like the color of the / heavy hemlocks. . .”




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