Robert Motherwell (American, 1915-1991)
Robert Motherwell was a pioneer and leading exponent of the postwar American abstract expressionist movement. As a painter and, printmaker, Motherwell defined abstract expressionism by concentrating on its emotive possibilities and engagement with the subconscious. Motherwell's emphasis on meaning…emotional, political, and social... distinguishes much of his work from his fellow abstract expressionists.
The Spanish Civil War is a primary theme of this artist’s works. In his many Spanish Elegy paintings and prints, Motherwell used the starkness of black and white as the basic element and the pattern of black vertical and oval shapes against a white backdrop. The artist employs an abstract language as a means of exploring political and social realities, an open-ended reference to the experience of loss and the heroics of stoic resistance.
In 1961 Motherwell began making limited edition prints. He was the only one of the original abstract expressionists to enthusiastically embrace printmaking. Motherwell worked with numerous print workshops in the United States and Europe. These collaborations between the Motherwell and the printmakers were a source of great satisfaction to the artist. He synthesized his unique abstract style and the materials and technical characteristics of printmaking to create over 200 editions over the next 30 years.
Throughout his life Motherwell searched for a personal and political voice in abstraction. This search produced a body of work that remains a testament to the human soul and its persistence, and to the genre of abstract painting.
Robert Motherwell’s artwork is included in public and private collections worldwide including the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art and the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C., J. Paul Getty Museum, Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain, National Gallery of Australia, Kunstmuseum, Basel and the Tate Gallery, London.