Piano Mechanique Essay

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Joan Mitchell’s Piano Mécanique At first glance, Joan Mitchell’s Piano mécanique appears to be nothing more than a canvas with arbitrary brushstrokes of paint. The painting, completed in 1958, is oil on canvas. There is no symmetry to the work, however it does appear to have some unity. All the brushstrokes seem to work together so that nothing feels out of place. The colors used in the painting make it somewhat dynamic; there is a combination of primaries, secondaries, and even earth tones. Every color is a complex tone or shade; that is to say, no color can be found in a standard 8 crayon Crayola box. The vibrant colors like bright red, blue, and orange are used more sparingly than the earth yellows and greens and greys. This, combined with the parts of the beige canvas that show through make the first impression of the colors of the painting muted. Only after close examination does it become apparent that there is a contribution from several bright colors. In this abstract expressionist work, there is no sense of where the light is coming from; there is no sense of volume thereby making it a flat painting. The brush work appears to be uncontrolled; it seems very painterly and not academic. There is no focus point in the work. The chaos makes the eyes jump around in order to get a full sense of the entire work. When gazing at the top left party of the painting, most of the brushstrokes are horizontal which make the eyes move in a left to right direction, but only momentarily. Once the eyes reach the end of that seeming rhythm across, they commence to jump around again trying seeking to find some other glimpse of pattern or rhythm. It leaves the viewer with a sense of yearning for another flash of order among all the chaos. By: Paola Pinto Works Cited Mitchell, Joan. Piano Mécanique. 1958. Oil on Canvas. National Gallery, Washington

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