Robert Motherwell: Pure Painting

Most painting in the European tradition was painting the mask. Modern art rejected all that. Our subject matter was the person behind the mask. 
– Robert Motherwell

Robert Motherwell (1915-1991) was a philosopher (with a PhD in philosophy from Harvard), writer and scholar. He brought those skills and attributes to his own art as well as to the culture of art in America in the 1950s and 1960s. 

 

Through his writings and teachings he pushed the boundaries of modern art to new levels and had a profound influence on artists of the New York School (his name for the group), a group of artists, poets and writers that included Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Willem de Kooning. Motherwell was the youngest member of the New York School. 

 

 

He was able to combine his feelings, his intellect, his social viewpoints onto each work he created, using masses of color, negative space and line. 

 

Many of Motherwell’s finest works are the prints he made: “In printmaking, I essentially use the same process as in painting with one important exception…to try, with sensitivity to the medium to emphasize what printing can do best…better than say, painting or collaging or watercolor or drawing or whatever…Otherwise, the artist expresses the same vision in graphics that he does in his other work.”

 

 A retrospective of the works of Robert Motherwell is currently on exhibit at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas. Robert Motherwell: Pure Painting is currently on view and will run through September 17, 2023.

 



 

 Many of the world’s greatest artist create their works on paper. Watercolor artists like Stephen Scott Young and Scott Kelley depend on the texture and quality of paper to create their work. 

 

Printmaker Ken Tyler encouraged artists like Robert Rauschenberg and Frank Stella to make their own paper and push the envelope of their printmaking. 

 

The appreciation of works on paper is the focus of this year’s Art on Paper Fair at Pier 36 in downtown Manhattan. This is the ninth year of the fair, which coincides with Armory Art Week. 

 

Galleries from around the world will display modern and contemporary works of art created on paper and with paper.

 

There will also be workshops on printmaking, talks about paper and even performances to demonstrate the versatility and creative uses of paper.

 

The Art on Paper Fair will run from September 7 through September 10, 2023.

 


 

References:

Phong Bùi. Robert Motherwell: Pure Painting. The Brooklyn Rail. September 2023 Issue.

Mark Westall. Art on Paper Returns to Pier 36 During Armory Arts Week. FAD Magazine. August 21, 2023.

September 1, 2023
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