One of a very few women willing to brave the machismo of New York Abstract Expressionism, Joan Mitchell (1926-1992) today ranks among the best of her generation. And the art market reflects her steady ascent: two years ago Christie's sold a 1971 Mitchell canvas for $7 million, the second-highest sale for a female artist. Setting aside matters of gender, Mitchell remains exemplary as an artist able to lay bare each decision of the brush, in long, curving strokes and tangles of paint on often unprimed canvases. Mitchell is as raw and as messy as Jackson Pollock or Cy Twombly, never digressing into prettiness for the sake of art. Published on the occasion of her eponymous late-2008 exhibition at Cheim & Read, Joan Mitchell: Sunflowers presents major paintings alongside a selection of pastels and etchings, which turn on the theme of the sunflower. Begun in 1969, after Mitchell had relocated to the French town of Vétheuil, just outside Paris, these works gathered steam until 1972. Sunflowers includes an essay by noted art historian and critic Dave Hickey, which offers a context for these fraught and beautiful works.