Robert Motherwell - Untitled
American, 1915 - 1991
Untitled, 1972-73
Lift-ground etching and aquatint, 29.5 x 41.5 inches
Edition 4/50
The artist and Dain-Schiff Gallery

Gift of Kathleen J. Crispell (LSA '67) and Thomas S. Porter (MBA '67)

Robert Motherwell takes his place in art history in the celebrated ranks of the Abstract Expressionists. Along with such artists as Jackson Pollock and Willem De Kooning, Motherwell pioneered an individualistic abstraction after World War II that championed large-scale formats, spontaneous gesture, and archetypal meanings. Unlike the majority of artists, however, Motherwell would go on to become one of the most important printmakers of the twentieth century. Beginning his printmaking career with the famous Tatyana Grosman at Universal Limited Art Editions in the early 1960s, Motherwell published over 400 editions during his lifetime.

Untitled presents an aquatinted ground in a vermilion red characteristic of the artist in his prints and paintings. On this intense rectangle of color, he added four brushed spontaneous lines that create a more informal and bisected rectangle in black ink. Much like East Asian calligraphy, the lines are intended to reveal, much as an autograph, the sensibility of the artist. Within the most minimal of means, Motherwell inscribes a shape associated with his "window" series of paintings from the late 1960s. According to the artist, he was responding in these works to a special group of paintings that Henri Matisse executed in the 1920s. Realist in style, Matisse's paintings were apartment interiors in the south of France, whose French window opened onto the Mediterranean. Although in abstracted terms, Motherwell’s etching likewise evokes the solitude of a private interior radiant with light.