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Oil on canvas


110 1/4 x 141 1/2 inches (280.035 x 359.41 cm)


Joan Mitchell Foundation

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© Estate of Joan Mitchell.
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About This Work

Merci, which means “thank you” in French, is one of the latest and most concise paintings in Mitchell’s body of work. To feel gratitude is to recognize one’s reliance upon things outside of oneself; for Mitchell it was a way of connecting with nature and the things she loved. She said, “In one of his so many beautiful letters, [van Gogh] says he gives gratitude to the sunflower because it exists. And I give gratitude to trees because they exist, and that’s all my painting is about."

Merci’s elevated passages of electric color have significant weight, yet attain lightness through the balance of other formal elements: of warm and cool colors, of color against white canvas, of vertical brushstrokes that follow the path of gravity and organic, knotted brushstrokes that float. The size and fluidity of the gestures indicate a physical rigor and sense of urgency; Mitchell was ill and knew she had little time left to paint.

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