Robert Motherwell


Robert Motherwell (January 24, 1915 – July 16, 1991) was an American abstract expressionist painter, printmaker, and editor. He was one of the youngest of the New York School, which also included Philip Guston, Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko. Trained in philosophy, Motherwell became an artist, regarded as among the most articulate of the abstract expressionist painters. He was known for his series of abstract paintings and prints which touched on political, philosophical and literary themes, such as the Elegies to the Spanish Republic. … In 1940, Motherwell moved to New York to study at Columbia University, where he was encouraged by Meyer Schapiro to devote himself to painting rather than scholarship. Schapiro introduced the young artist to a group of exiled Parisian Surrealists (Max Ernst, Duchamp, Masson) and arranged for Motherwell to study with Kurt Seligmann. The time that Motherwell spent with the Surrealists proved to be influential to his artistic process. … Matta introduced Motherwell to the concept of ‘automatic’ drawing or automatism, which the Surrealists used to tap into their unconscious. The concept had a lasting effect on Motherwell, further augmented by his meeting with the artist Wolfgang Paalen. … In 1962, Motherwell and Frankenthaler spent the summer at the artists’ colony at Provincetown, Massachusetts, where the coastline inspired the Beside the Sea series of 64 paintings, the oil paint splashed with full force imitating the sea crashing on the shore in front of his studio. The 1963 untitled oil on canvas painting in the collection of the Honolulu Museum of Art exemplifies this stage in the artist’s career. In 1964, Motherwell created a mural-sized painting entitled Dublin 1916, with Black and Tan, which is in the Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza Art Collection in Albany, NY. The size and content suggest that Motherwell intended to create a monument to heroism in the tradition of Picasso’s Guernica. In 1965 Motherwell worked on another prominent series called the Lyric Suite, named after Alban Berg‘s string quartet. … The late 1960s saw Motherwell using Gauloises packets and cartons in many collages, including an extensive series with the packets surrounded by bright red acrylic paint, often with incised lines in the painted areas. …”
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YouTube: Robert Motherwell | Abstract Expressionism | New York School | Documentary


Elegy to the Spanish Republic 108, 1965-67

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