Fred Mitchell (artist)


Fred Mitchell (artist)

Fred Mitchell, American painter & draftsman

Born 1923, Meridian, MS
Studied: Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, PA, 1942-1943
Cranbrook Academy, Bloomfield Hills, MI, Bachelor of Fine Art and MFA, 1946-1947 & 1955-1956
University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, summer 1947
Columbia University, NYC, c. 1947
Atelier 17, NYC, Studied print making w/ Stanley William Hayter NYC. c. 1947
Academie de Belles Arti, Rome, 1948-1949
Madison Fred Mitchell has been known as a gifted Abstract Expressionist painter since the late 1940s.

Mitchell just out of high school was already well versed in an advanced style of Modernist and Regionalist painting was awarded a painting scholarship in Pittsburgh to attend Carnegie Tech. Knew Warhol slightly and was friends with Philip Perlstein. In 1943 Mitchell was drafted into the US army and served by teaching mechanical drawing for the army in Maryland and Chicago. After the war he attended Cranbrook Academy for two years on scholarship where he studied with painter Zoltan Zepeshy. Moving towards an advanced and exceptional style of cubist/modernist/expressionist painting in 1947 he won a national Pepsi Cola cash award of $1,500 for a Cubist influenced oil painting entitled "Sawmill". An exhibition for the award winners was organized by The National Academy in New York City and traveled to The Rochester Memorial Art Museum. Mitchell used the award money to sail to Rome in 1948 living there for three years traveling and painting. On the steamer ship to Antwerp he had a coincidential meeting with the well connected American painter John Heliker (b.1909). The meeting lead Mitchell to many other artist introductions. In Rome Mitchell became close with the Heliker who was older & working in a more advanced expressionist painting style. They remained friendly through the remainder of Heliker's life. He also met other American painters living in Rome including Angelo Ippolito, Lois Dodd, William King; and came to know Italian master Afro (Basadella) who had a striking influence on Mitchell's painting. Cumulatively the Rome period moved Mitchell towards a more confident abstract form of expressionism & non representational "allover" painting.
In 1951 Mitchell moved to New York City and became one of the first painters to open a painting studio in the downtown seaport area along the East River known as Coenties Slip. Mitchell started an art school in #31 Coenties Slip an old sail making loft. Much has been written about the ensuing years when other important artists moved into Coenties Slip lofts including Ellsworth Kelly who was introduced to the area by Mitchell. Robert Indiana took over Mitchell's #31 loft in 1956 to be near his friends Agnes Martin, Jack Youngerman, James Rosenquist and Kelly. Mitchell absorbed influences from many of these artists/collegues yet remained firmly independent of them.

1952 Fred Mitchell along with Angelo Ippolito and fellow artists Lois Dodd, Charles Cajori and William King organized Tanager Gallery on East 9th Street as an artist's cooperative gallery. Tanager Gallery quickly became known as one of the most influential and respected co-op galleries in New York just as the Abstract Expressionist movement swept the art world. Mitchell's first New York solo show was at Tanager Gallery in 1952 with solo exhibitions also in 1954 and 1960. Over its ten year history Tanager Gallery showed most of the older master abstractionists or "New York School" painters & sculptors as they were becoming well known including Philip Guston, Ad Reinhardt, Willem De Kooning, Franz Kline, Barnet Newman, Philip Pavia, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Tom Wessel, George Ortman. Tanager also became a important platform for showing & introducing many new artists including early showings by Johns, Rauschenberg, Alex Katz, Philip Pearlstein, Bill King, Helen Frankenthaler, Norman Bluhm, Mitchell, and many others. In Rome c. 1950 Philip Guston and Mitchell were introduced. They became friendly as did many other of the artists at the Cedar Tavern in New York. Philip Pavia brought Mitchell to 'The Club' in New York. The world of talented painters and sculptors in New York City was small and Mitchell became friends with most of them during this period. Johns & Rauschenberg lived above Mitchell's other loft on 128 Front Street in New York.
Mitchell exhibited in several group shows at Stable Gallery and was included in two of the Stable Gallery Annuals in 1953 & 1954. In 1954 Mitchell's oil painting "Black , White & Red" was included in The Guggenheim Museum exhibition "Younger American Painters". Curated by James Johnson Sweeney the exhibition traveled to The Dallas MoA, and The Detroit Museum. In 1955 Mitchell returned to Cranbrook Academy to teach for several years while also exhibiting in New York and Cleveland as well as traveling back to Positano Italy. During the mid to late 1950s Mitchell exhibited at Howard Wise Gallery in Cleveland. Wise opened a second gallery in 1960 in New York City and Mitchell had two solo shows there in 1961 and 1963.
Throughout the 1960s to the 1990s, Fred Mitchell exhibited in numerous American art museums and galleries including: The Walker Arts Center, Minneapolis MN, "Vanguard '55"; Roko Gallery, NYC; Landmark Gallery, NYC; The Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC; Museum of Modern Art, New York; SUNY Binghamton, NY; Munson Williams Proctor Institute; The South Street Seaport, NYC; U. of Oregon Art Museum; Jackson MS Memorial Art Museum; The Bronx MoA; The Wooster Art Center, Danbury,CT; Katharina Rich Perlow Gallery,NYC; Tabakman Gallery, NYC; Susan Teller Gallery, NYC; Pace Gallery,NYC; ULAE Workshop Gallery, NYC; Thomas McCormick Gallery, Chicago. Mitchell's most recent solo exhibitions were held at David Findlay Jr Fine Art, NYC in 2003 and Joyce Goldstein Gallery in Chatham, NY in 2007 and Noel Fine Art in Bronxville, NY, 2008.

In 1977 Mitchell organized an important exhibiton and book on the subject of Franz Kline's early work entitled "Franz Kline: The Early Work As Signals" published by SUNY Binghamton University Art Gallery. The exibition was presented at SUNY Binghamton University Art Gallery, Binghamton, NY and The Neuberger Art Museum, SUNY, Purchase New York.

Sources:
- "Modernism Into Abstraction: Fred Mitchell 1940-1949"; Noel Fine Art, Bronxville, New York; 2008. Joyce Goldstein Gallery, Chatham, NY, 2007.
- 1999-2008, Philip Douglas Heilman, Philip Douglas Fine Art, New York, NY & Columbiaville, NY. Many personal interviews and discussions with the artist.

References:
- 1998-2008, Philip Douglas Fine Art, Columbiaville, NY. http://www.philipdouglasfineart.com
- 2007, "Second To None" Vol. 4, Exhibition catalog. Thomas McCormick Gallery, Chicago, IL.
- 2003, Fred Mitchell, exhibition at David Findlay Jr. Gallery, New York, NY.
- 2002, 2003: "Second to None" Volumes 1 & 2, Exhibition catalog. Thomas McCormick Gallery, Chicago, IL.
- 2000, "The New York School: Artists Choices by Artists", by Marika Herskovic. New York School Press.
- 1993, The Pace Gallery, New York, NY. "Coenties Slip". Curated by Margaret Glimcher. Exhibition catalog.
- 1977, "Franz Kline, The Early Work As Signals." SUNY Binghamton Art Gallery. Exhibition and catalog organised by Fred Mitchell & published by SUNY Binghamton University Art Gallery with essay by Albert Boime.
- 1974, "Nine Coenties Slip Artists", The Whitney Museum of American Art. Exhibition catalog.
- 1957, The Tanager Gallery 1957, Annual Xmas Exhibition. Gallery exhibition check list.
- 1"952-1962 The Tanager Gallery: Ten Years", exhibition catalog.
- 1953, "Younger American Painters", Exhibition catalog, Exhibition curated by James Johnson Sweeney, The Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY.
- 1945 "Army Art", The National Gallery of Art, Washington DC. Exhibition catalog.


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