Before, Again IV, 1985

Joan Mitchell is considered part of the “second generation” of abstract expressionists, and one of the few women associated with the conventionally masculine action painting movement. Mitchell’s large, gestural, “all over” paintings are infused with light and movement, often referencing landscapes or the natural world. “My paintings repeat a feeling about Lake Michigan, or water, or field…it’s more like a poem…and that’s what I want to paint,” Mitchell said. The periods of Mitchell’s work were catalyzed by life events, relationships, and experiences. Before, Again IV comes from the late part of Mitchell’s career, after she was diagnosed with cancer. During this period, she made some of her most experimental work. Mitchell thought of painting as a form of transcendence and nurturing, and as the antithesis of death.