JOAN MITCHELL at Cheim and Read

Joan Mitchell, Yves, 1991, 110 1/4 x 78 3/4 inches, oil on canvas

Joan Mitchell, Sunflowers, Installation View, courtesy Cheim and Read

One of the most consistently intelligent and satisfying galleries in NY, Cheim and Read makes a habit of mounting shows that are "blue chip" in the best sense -- from last year's Bill Jensen and Pat Steir extravaganzas to the recent Milton Resnick, Louise Bourgoise and Juan Usle exhibitions. Now, as the extremely fortunate representative of the Joan Mitchell estate, the gallery offers another museum quality (or better) selection of great paintings by one of the all-time great painters. A bit younger than most of the first generation NY School hot dogs, Joan Mitchell is often considered part of the second generation. But her work is in a league of its own -- emerging out of the first generation Club without much support from the old boys, and without the professional coddling later afforded deKooning and others. She moved to France and built her own world and a towering body of tough and timeless work. It is always a privilege to see even one Joan Mitchell painting, so this show which includes numerous large-scale important works is simply a gift. The theme of the show is Sunflowers, and it features loosely related paintings, drawings and prints from the '60s through the early '90s. Every piece in the show is daring, open, rigorous, abundant -- the work of a master painter working in total integration with the deep experience of her world and the limits of her visual language.