Joan Mitchell is known for her Abstract Expressionist paintings in intense compositions of distinct brushstrokes and bold colors on pale backgrounds. She attended Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts (1942–44), and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, earning BFA (1947) and MFA (1950) degrees. She lived briefly in New York, but in 1948 moved to Paris on a fellowship and traveled to Spain and Czechoslovakia. During this time Mitchell mainly painted Expressionist landscapes, evolving toward abstraction. She returned to New York in 1949 and quickly became part of the downtown avant-garde art scene, associating with such prominent New York School artists as Franz Kline (1910–1962) and Willem de Kooning (1904–1997). In 1951 she became one of the few female members of the Eighth Street Club and was included in the groundbreaking Ninth Street Show. The next year Mitchell had her first New York solo show and met the poet Frank O’Hara (1926–1966), whose poems (among others) inspired her work. From 1955 onward, she lived alternately in New York and France until she settled in Vétheuil, a village in the northwestern suburbs of Paris, in 1968. One of her associates in France was the artist Cy Twombly (1928–2011).