Ladybug

1957

Title

Ladybug

Medium

Oil on canvas

Dimensions

77 7/8 x 108 inches (197.803 x 274.32 cm)

Collection

The Museum of Modern Art
New York, New York

Rights & Reproductions

© Estate of Joan Mitchell.
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About This Work

“Ladybug presents an apparently spontaneous—but in fact carefully plotted—accumulation of brushstrokes. Staccato arcs and dashes of marigold, mauve, dark berry, and brown seem to leap off the canvas, while excess pigment dribbles downward. Colors abut one another, overlap, and mix on the picture’s surface, dense paint merging with liquid drips, and flatness with relief. The chromatic web appears to hover over an empty ground, which is actually composed of several layers of white paint.

“In 1957, the year in which she made Ladybug, Mitchell said of her process, “The freedom in my work is quite controlled.” She meticulously applied each color, attentive to the relationships between them and to the weight of each brushstroke. In this painting and others of this period, Mitchell, unlike many of her Abstract Expressionist contemporaries, rejected an allover compositional approach, preferring a balance of figure and ground—even in a fully abstract image.” (Excerpted from The Museum of Modern Art)