Born: Chicago, Illinois 1925
Died: Paris, France 1992
oil on canvas 95 x 71 in. (241.3 x 180.3 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc.
Smithsonian American Art Museum
3rd Floor, North Wing
Marlin is one of the "very violent and angry paintings" that Mitchell created around 1960 after her move to France. The image may have reminded her of deep-sea fishing off the coast of Montauk, Long Island, or it might have come from her summers spent sailing the Mediterranean with friends. All of the energy of Mitchell's painting style whirls around a vortex of thick, vivid strokes, while thin spatters and stains fly out to the margins. This explosive power did not come from random attacks with the paintbrush. Mitchell flatly stated that "the freedom in my work is quite controlled. I don't close my eyes and hope for the best." The artist regarded painting as "a way of feeling alive," and she paradoxically evoked the death throes of a famously difficult game fish resisting the bloodied hook.
Exhibition Label, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2006
paint - oil
fabric - canvas