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 helped establish New York City as the center of the post-war art world.   

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. 

His work appears in museum collections around the world and is instantly recognizable for its boldness and black forms. Yet in addition to his impressive paintings, 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 expand his ideas and express his aesthetic. 

While traces of figuration in Motherwell's oeuvre are quite rare, he was inspired by and referenced literature, politics, and art history.  

"Summer Trident" serves as an excellent example of Motherwell's distinctive gestural abstraction and innate ability to convey dynamic energy through indiscernible forms. A periwinkle blue motif fills the center of the page, while its ascending triangle imbues a sense of vigorous, upward movement. 

In Greek mythology, a trident signifies Poseidon's divine power and reign over the sea. Regardless of whether this was a direct source of inspiration for the artist, the forms in this work maintain the same ethos of strength, control, and restraint. A trio of almost parallel gestural lines is a frequent motif in Motherwell's late works. Click here to see another example of this. 

This edition was donated to the "Harvey Gantt for Senate Campaign Committee" in 1990, with all proceeds donated to Gantt's run. Other notable artists to donate to the campaign included: Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, and Robert Rauschenberg, among others.

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"Summer Trident"

USA, 1990

Lithograph and chine collé

Rives BFK paper; Japanese Kozo 547 razor-cut paper

Signed "RM" and numbered by the artist

Signed in the plate (upper right) 

From an edition of 200

14.25"H 16.25"H (work)

Publisher: Artist; distributed by Gemini G.E.L., Los Angeles, and Ronald Feldman Gallery, New York

Very good condition

Provenance: The Dedalus Foundation

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