On May 4, Hindman Auctions will present Joan Mitchell’s Untitled, 1989 as the centerpiece of its Post War and Contemporary Art auction, where it will be offered with an estimate of $500,000-700,000. Executed during the later years of Mitchell’s career, this work is an outstanding example of her shift towards lush and transcendent painting. The softer strokes and sense of restraint in Untitled, 1989 contrast Mitchell’s slashing paint handling in earlier work, while still illustrating her singular vision and timeless approach. Untitled, 1989 is from a Private Collection (Atlanta, Georgia) and was purchased from Cheim & Read in New York in 2012.

“We are thrilled to be offering this outstanding work as the focal point of this year’s May Fine Art auctions, especially with the premiere of Joan Mitchell’s major retrospective this September,” remarked Hindman’s Senior Specialist for Post War and Contemporary Art, Zachary Wirsum. “Mitchell’s work has seen intense interest at market over the past few years. We are looking forward to bidders’ response to this magical work, which is an incredible example of how her painting evolved.”

Untitled, 1989 features vast created compositional space, which makes the work seem more vibrant than its size, 24 by 19 ¾ inches, might suggest. Through broadly applied blue and shadowy streaks of black and billows of white, the painting moves the gaze to landscape-like references that can be interpreted as the edge of a body of water in the lower right foreground and a pale green shore or horizon in the distant upper left. The depth and visual movement of the work is further accentuated by the varied decisive marks. This painting, like much of Mitchell’s later works, feels more emotionally connected than works from earlier in her career, and visually connects with Cy Twombly, Jackson Pollock, and Claude Monet.

As a renowned female voice who gained recognition during the second wave of the Abstract Expressionist movement in 1950s New York, Mitchell resisted the understanding of abstraction as nonhierarchical flat overall painting and juxtaposed static structural elements with intense passages of colorful gestural improvisation. Mitchell worked in a variety of mediums throughout her career and is widely recognized as one of the most significant artists of the post war era.

Mitchell has strong ties to Chicago as she was born and raised in the city and earned an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2018, Hindman set a global record for Mitchell’s Untitled (Pastel), 1991, when it sold for $1,212,500, which is the highest price realized at auction for a work on paper by the artist.

Bidding for the May 4 Post War and Contemporary Art Auction will begin at 10am CT, and bidders will be able to participate via absentee bid, by phone, and live online through the Digital Bid Room, Hindman’s recently launched online and mobile bidding platform.

VR Sunil Gohil