Listening to Art

02.08: Joan Mitchell, Chasse Interdite

Download (MP3).

Listening to Art, by William Denton.

Volume two, number eight: Chasse Interdite, by Joan Mitchell.

Hello, and welcome to Listening to Art. I’m William Denton.

Chasse Interdite (translated as “Hunting Prohibited”) was done in 1973 when Joan Mitchell, an American abstract expressionist born in 1925, was living in France.

At this time, as was true for much of her life, she drank a lot. I quote from Patricia Albers’s biography Joan Mitchell: Lady Painter (pp. 320–321):

Joan was rarely a tottering drunk—in other words, she was a true alcoholic. She drank to ward off anxiety and bolster her feelings of self-worth, even though alcohol exacerbated the self-doubts she projected as hypercritical hostility and kept her in depressive cycles. But most fundamentally she drank to get her conscious mind out of the way when she painted. Painting had to rise above the ordinary. Reason had to fall by the wayside. Joan told one friend that if she did not drink she could not paint. “I will use anything that will encourage me or inspire me,” she said to another. “Anything at all to feel something. I might read a poem. I might have another Scotch. I might talk to one of my dogs.”

This is a painting, oil on canvas, 720.1 cm wide by 280 cm high.

Now let’s listen to Chasse Interdite, by Joan Mitchell, recorded at the Art Gallery of Ontario, in Toronto, on 16 February 2018.

Waveform of the field recording.

That was Chasse Interdite by Joan Mitchell. I hope you enjoyed listening to it as much as I did.

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All web sites accessed as of date of publication.

Albers, Patricia. Joan Mitchell: Lady Painter. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2011.

Centre Pompidou. “Chasse Interdite.” Centre Pompidou.

Wikipedia, s.v. “Joan Mitchell,”