In the sketchbooks the artist allowed herself total freedom; the works within range from minimal to maximal and from jazzy abstractions to more recognizable images. There is a touching intimacy to these drawings, made far from the querulous, male-dominated bastions of Abstract Expressionism that Mitchell had assailed in New York. It was largely her own landscape that she celebrated during her years in Vétheuil: the magnificent linden tree in the courtyard of her house; clusters of sunflowers; reflections in the river. Made available for this exhibition by a Paris collector, these sketchbooks seem certain to reshape our understanding of Mitchell’s painting.
A version of this story originally appeared in the Summer 2015 issue of ARTnews on page 110.