Robert Motherwell


Robert Motherwell (1915-1991), alongside Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Willem de Kooning, made up the quartet of American abstract painters that radically defined abstraction and established New York City as the center of the art world for the second half of the 20th century.   

Motherwell was also the unofficial spokesman of the New York School, writing, teaching, and lecturing on behalf of the movement, his fellow artists, and the merits of abstraction. 

In addition to his impressive painting career, Motherwell is also revered as a printmaker. He is one of the most innovative and prolific printmakers of the 20th century. He was always searching for new techniques, whether at his own printmaking atelier or collaborating with others, to express his ideas and expand his aesthetic. 

In the 1960's Motherwell fell in love with Italy. The country would provide to be a major source of inspiration during an era that saw abstract expressionism lose its dominant position in the avant-garde as it was challenged by pop art and minimalism, in addition to numerous other sub-genres of contemporary art. 

By the late 1960's minimalism had unquestionably influenced Robert Motherwell. This work from the same year he began his "Open" series, appropriately features his iconic uncapped rectangle, delicately realized within a bold cinnabar colored form, which is contained in a ripped out space from a field of saturated jade green. The overall effect recalls both an olive's pimento and the slashed or ripped canvases of Lucio Fontana (who coincidentally died in September 1968) 

Spoleto is located in the center of Italy, approximately halfway between Rome and Florence. The eponymous festival was established in 1958 to celebrate the performing and visual arts. Motherwell designed the announcement poster based on a recent collage. The poster was realized in an edition of 950. This work, a screenprint from an edition of 150, has both a signature in the plate, as well as the artist's signature in pencil (along with the edition number). 

Incidentally, in 1972 Helen Frankenthaler would similarly create an artwork for the Spoleto Festival shortly after her divorce from Robert Motherwell. 

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"Spoleto Festival"

USA, 1966

Screenprint on American etching paper

Signed and dated in the plate

Signed and numbered by the artist in pencil 

From an edition of 150

39.5"H 27.5"W (work)

Very good condition

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