Blue Territory: a meditation on the life and art of Joan Mitchell

Robin Lippincott (Author)


Blue Territory is a poetic immersion into the life and art of Joan Mitchell, the great American abstract expressionist painter. A contemporary of Jackson Pollock and Willem De Kooning, she is not as well known as her male counterparts because she was a woman and also because she spent most of her working life in France. Still, in 2013, Bloomsburg Business listed Mitchell as the bestselling female artist of all time. When asked to talk about her paintings, Joan Mitchell often responded, "If I could say it in words, I'd write a book." Here is her book. At once unique and universal, Blue Territory is at its core an exploration of love and life, and what it means to love - and live - what you do. Meticulously researched and lyrically written, it will appeal to anyone interested in passionate engagement with the world. The book eschews images so as to allow the words to form them, thereby freeing the reader to imagine the paintings, much as Mitchell would have to do before picking up her brush.

Product Details

Tidal Press
Publish Date
December 04, 2015
5.25 X 0.43 X 8.0 inches | 0.5 pounds

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About the Author

Robin Lippincott has published three novels-In the Meantime, Our Arcadia, and Mr. Dalloway, as well as a collection of short stories, The 'I' Rejected. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in the Paris Review, Fence, Bloom, American Short Fiction, Memorious, and many other journals; for ten years he wrote reviews of mostly art and photography books for the New York Times Book Review. He has held fellowships at Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony. Robin lives in the Boston area and teaches in Spalding University's low residency MFA in Writing Program. His new book, Rufus + Syd, a young adult novel cowritten with Julia Watts, was published in May 2016.


"Robin Lippincott's affecting and intimate tribute to the painter, Joan Mitchell, is as fiercely felt, imaginative, fluid, and light-filled as her brushstrokes. He has erased the boundaries between Mitchell's art and her life, capturing the quality of light, the saturation of color in her work as deftly as her originality, loneliness, and intensity. Blue Territory will open your eyes to the work of one remarkable artist, and to what art at its best can do." - Eleanor Morse, Author, White Dog Fell from the Sky "The title speaks to is her color. Blue is Joan Mitchell. This book evokes her spirit through a serious of carefully chosen quotes and poignant ruminations. [It is] a biography that is elegantly written and more than a meditation. It's glorious." - Alex Nyerges, Director, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts "In Blue Territory, Robin Lippincott assembles and unfolds the facts, events, and relationships of Joan Mitchell's life, poetically constructing a portrait of this important painter. Joan loved her life as an artist - it was one full of risks, high and low points, of art to make and see, and artists, poets, writers and composers to meet. She was an intellectual, a fighter, a person of integrity; full of empathy, love, and anguish. Through all of her travails, she painted - from late at night until early in the morning. With this beautiful book, which is at once specific and insightful, oblique and haunting, Lippincott conveys a sense of who Joan Mitchell was, and the substance of her work." - Sally Apfelbaum, Artist, friend of Joan Mitchell "Robin Lippincott has an uncanny ability to convey just what he finds so compelling about Joan Mitchell-from her gutsy struggle to thrive in the male-dominated art world of the '50s and '60s, to her last valiant efforts to work while dying of lung cancer. Combining personal essay, biography, and a dash of fiction, Blue Territory freely imagines the artist's interiority and boldly celebrates her life, hitting on deeper truths regarding artistic endeavor, the art of living, and the equally creative act of fandom." - Clifford Chase, Author, The Tooth Fairy and Winkie "No mere recounting of the life of an artistic figure, Blue Territory is an audacious rendering of an artist, her passion, her obstacles, and her triumphant work. Robin Lippincott has created a genre of his own in this revelation of Joan Mitchell and her world. Here, the abstract nature of her painting is made concrete, the metaphysics of her vision made tangible, and her vibrant color finds its perfect translation in equally vivid prose. The reader comes away from the experience with the impression of having inhabited, in deep empathetic understanding, a life made from art." - Kirby Gann, Author, Ghosting and Our Napoleon in Rags