ROBERT MOTHERWELL "ST. MICHAEL II" LITHO, 1979

Robert Motherwell (1915-1991), alongside Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Willem de Kooning, made up a quartet of American abstract painters that radically defined Modern painting and established New York City as the center of the art world.

While Motherwell is known as one of the most important and influential artists associated with Abstract Expressionism, he is also revered for his work and promotion of printmaking.

Beginning in the early 1970's Motherwell began to include obscure European cigarette and wine label graphics in his printmaking. It also continues a tradition, established by Picasso and Braque during the heyday of Cubism, of incorporating the detritus of daily life into the artistic work. (It also arguably is a nod or challenge to Pop art which was similarly interested in commercial labels) 

Where the Cubists incorporated collage into the painted canvas, Motherwell similarly developed a process of collage incorporated into print while retaining the artistic gesture of Abstract Expressionist painting.

Click here to see another example of cigarette packaging in Motherwell’s work.

This lithograph with screenprint is a paradigm of Motherwell's oeuvre. Beginning the “St. Michael” series in 1975, Motherwell only deemed the works finished in 1979 after adding black to the background of the compositions. And unlike some of its predecessors, such as in the Summer Light series, that used cigarette labels discretely, in the St. Michael works, the label becomes the central or dominant element of the composition. 

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Lithograph with screenprint. 

Signed RM and numbered by the artist.

From an edition of 46

USA, 1979

60 1/4"H 17 3/4"W

Very good condition.

Framed with plexiglass

Literature: The Prints of Robert Motherwell, Terenzio and Belknap, pg. 231

Provenance: The John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco 

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