Timeline 1980

  1. 1981

    "Edrita Fried", 1981.

    Executes the Bedford Series, a group of ten large color lithographs, published by Tyler Graphics Ltd., Mt. Kisco, New York.

    Edrita Fried dies of cancer; Mitchell titles the painting Edrita Fried (1981) in honor of her former psychoanalyst and long-time friend.

  2. 1982

    Mitchell with her sister, Sally Perry.

    Mitchell has her first major European museum solo exhibtion, “Joan Mitchell: Choix de Paintures, 1970–1982,” at ARC, Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, the first female American artist to have an exhibition at the museum. She shows forty-two paintings in a survey of work spanning a thirteen-year period.

    After a long illness, Sally Perry dies of cancer. Mitchell paints Pour ses malinois (1981), Cobalt (1981), and Chez ma soeur (1981–82) in homage to her.

  3. 1983

    "La Grande Vallée XVI, Pour Iva", 1983.

    Paints the Grande Vallée series. The title comes from a friend, who recounts to her that a young cousin, on his deathbed, said he dreamed of returning to the Grand Vallée in Brittany, where the two had spent their childhood.

  4. 1984

    Vétheuil, 1985.

    Begins to suffer from cancer. During 1984–86, submits to a series of hospital treatments and operations.


    Mitchell is hospitalized for hip surgery. Paints the Between series, between stays in the hospital.

  5. 1987

    Mitchell with Xavier Fourcade in her Vétheuil studio, 1987.

    April. Xavier Fourcade dies; the gallery continues to operate under the directorship of Bernard Lennon and Jill Weinberg.

  6. 1988

    February. Receives the Distinguished Artist Award for Lifetime Achievement from the College Art Association of America during its seventy-sixth annual conference, in Houston. Mitchell is the first artist to receive this newly established award.

  7. 1988-89

    Corcoran Gallery of Art, 1988.

    Has a retrospective exhibition, “The Paintings of Joan Mitchell: Thirty-six Years of Natural Expressionism,” organized for the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York; the exhibition tours the United States, with stops at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the San Francisco Museum of Art; the  Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla, California; and the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca. Joan Mitchell by Judith E. Bernstock, guest curator of the exhibition, is published by Hudson Hills Press, to accompany the exhibition, the first full monograph on the artist.

  8. 1989

    Mitchell in her Vétheuil studio, 1989.

    Is awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Publishes Smoke, a collaborative book with poetry by Charles ("Hank") Hine and sixteen diptych aquatint etchings by the artist. This book is the culmination of Mitchell and Hine's work together at Limestone Press in San Francisco in May 1988.

    Appointed Commandeur des Arts et Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture.

  9. "Untitled", 1989.

    Mitchell is hospitalized for a second hip operation. After the surgery she rents a studio on rue Campagne-Première in Montparnasse, where she begins to work on pastel drawings during her medical visits to Paris.

    Receives the Grand Prix National de Peinture in France.

    Mitchell has her first solo exhibition at the Robert Miller Gallery, New York. She will have another solo exhibition there in 1991. After her death, the gallery will continue to represent her estate, presenting posthumous solo exhibitions in 1993 and 1994.