In association with the artist’s estate, the Locks Gallery exhibit will focus on two themes which run throughout Motherwell’s long printmaking career: his Elegy series and his collaged prints.
Robert Motherwell, born 1915 in Aberdeen, Washington, was the youngest of the Abstract Expressionist artists who revolutionized painting in the 1940s and shifted the focus of the art world from Paris to New York.
While his initial explorations into printmaking began in the 1940s, his sustained preoccupation with the field began in the 1960s and coincided with the “graphics renaissance” in America. The collaborative nature of printmaking gave him great creative stimulus and also allowed him to integrate his passion for collage into the process. As Motherwell was the only member of the original Abstract Expressionist group to fully embrace printmaking in all of its forms, his work bridges the medium’s history from its origin in the 1940s to its widespread accessibility and enterprise in the 1960s.
The Elegies manifest Motherwell’s personal iconography in their rigid examination of a single theme. They represent “psychic automation” as he visualized it: the product of rigorous discipline and constant reexamination of variations within the pictorial expression. The paucity of color in these works and their titular reference to dark historical events and literary figures emphasize Motherwells’ exploration of the human experience through the “blackness of death and the whiteness of vitality.”
The multiplicity of dimension that collage offered appealed to Motherwell’s non-linear approach to art and he considered it to be the greatest discovery of modern art. For Motherwell, collage conveyed feeling and he derived much of the expression in his works from the facets of the torn edges and their interactions with the underlying layers.
Robert Motherwell died in 1991 after a markedly pivotal and prolific career. His work has been viewed all over the world and is included in most major museum collections. This exhibition at the Locks Gallery represents an excellent opportunity to view pieces from specific trends in the artist’s oeuvre which remain available for purchase.