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George Went Swimming at Barnes Hole, but It Got Too Cold

Joan Mitchell (American, 1925–1992). George Went Swimming at Barnes Hole, but It Got Too Cold, 1957. Oil on canvas, 85 1/4 x 78 1/4 inches (216.5 x 198.8 cm). Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Gift of Seymour H. Knox, Jr., 1958 (K1958:11). © Joan Mitchell Foundation.

© Estate of Joan Mitchell

Image downloads are for educational use only. For all other purposes, please see our Obtaining and Using Images page.

© Estate of Joan Mitchell

Image downloads are for educational use only. For all other purposes, please see our Obtaining and Using Images page.

© Estate of Joan Mitchell

Image downloads are for educational use only. For all other purposes, please see our Obtaining and Using Images page.

Joan Mitchell

American, 1925-1992

George Went Swimming at Barnes Hole, but It Got Too Cold, 1957

oil on canvas

support: 85 1/4 x 78 1/4 inches (216.535 x 198.755 cm); framed: 87 1/2 x 80 1/2 x 2 7/8 inches (222.25 x 204.47 x 7.3 cm)

Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York

Gift of Seymour H. Knox, Jr., 1958. Conservation funded by grant from the Bank of America Art Conservation Project.

K1958:11

Currently On View

More Details

Inscriptions

signature / lower right / J. Mitchell

Provenance

Stable Gallery;
purchased with funds provided by Seymour H. Knox, Jr., by the Albright Art Gallery, April 24, 1958

Class

Paintings (visual works)

Work Type

Oil painting (visual work)

This information may change due to ongoing research. Glossary of Terms

Joan Mitchell’s abstract paintings reflect the people, places, and experiences that made up her life. As she explained, to begin a work she had to “think of something and get into a situation where I feel something, and where I love something, and it was George. George swimming at Barnes Hole [located in Long Island, New York]. We used to go swimming together. . . . I paint out  of love. Love or feeling is getting out of yourself and focusing instead on someone or something else.” George, however, is not a person. Instead, it is the name of the Mitchell’s standard poodle, who she loved deeply. George Went Swimming at Barnes Hole, but It Got Too Cold started out with various shades of yellow, but when she returned to the work, eventually Mitchell added whites and blues to create a feeling of chill. By then less happy memories had come into compositional play for the artist—including those of a 1954 hurricane in East Hampton. George was with her in that hurricane, and he died later that year. Mitchell suggested that the colors in the painting may have changed because of her memory of the blue tints in George’s fur, or solely because he was dead. Though the composition’s initial warm palette can still be detected in places, it is subordinate to the now-cold mood of the overall canvas.

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