Robert Motherwell - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale New York Tuesday, May 10, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Dedalus Foundation, Inc., New York, 1991
    Manny Silverman Gallery, San Francisco

  • Exhibited

    New York, James Graham & Sons Gallery, The Big Drawing, April 8 - May 3, 1969

  • Literature

    Jack Flam, Katy Rogers & Tim Clifford, Robert Motherwell: A Catalogue Raisonné, 1941-1991, vol. 3, Collages and Paintings on Paper and Paperboard, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012, cat. no W305, p. 529 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Untitled, 1969 stands as an immaculate example from Robert Motherwell’s iconic Open series. A rare, larger format work on paper, Untitled, 1969 was created for an exhibition entitled The Big Drawing, shown at James Graham & Sons Gallery in New York. The group show was coordinated by framer Barbara Kulicke, who requested the participating artists to provide large scale pieces (between 2 x 5 and 4 x 8 feet), which were to be framed in a new Kulicke frame called the Plas-Par-Tout (Place for all). Untitled, 1969 has a charcoal lined Open form with a ribbon of white acrylic paint running vertically down the right hand side of the composition. The Open series, initiated in 1967 by Motherwell, took form when the artist was struck by the shape of a smaller painting leaning against a larger painting in his studio. The outline of the smaller work sitting on the floor suggested an opening at the bottom of the larger canvas. Motherwell later inverted this smaller rectangular form to imply an opening upwards, towards a new dimension somewhere between physical reality and pictorial abstraction, as seen beautifully in Untitled, 1969.

  • Artist Biography

    Robert Motherwell

    American • 1915 - 1991

    One of the youngest proponents of the Abstract Expressionist movement, Robert Motherwell rose to critical acclaim with his first solo exhibition at Peggy Guggenheim's Art of This Century gallery in 1944. Not only was Motherwell one of the major practicing Abstract Expressionist artists, he was, in fact, the main intellectual driving force within the movement—corralling fellow New York painters such as Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Hans Hoffman and William Baziotes into his circle. Motherwell later coined the term the "New York School", a designation synonymous to Abstract Expressionism that loosely refers to a wide variety of non-objective work produced in New York between 1940 and 1960.

    During an over five-decade-long career, Motherwell created a large and powerful body of varied work that includes paintings, drawings, prints and collages. Motherwell's work is most generally characterized by simple shapes, broad color contrasts and a dynamic interplay between restrained and gestural brushstrokes. Above all, it demonstrates his approach to art-making as a response to the complexity of lived, and importantly felt, experience.

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Property from a Rocky Mountain Collection



acrylic and charcoal on paper
61 1/2 x 31 1/2 in. (156.2 x 80 cm)
Initialed and dated "RM 69" lower right.

$40,000 - 60,000 

Sold for $81,250

Contact Specialist
John McCord
Head of Day Sale
New York
+1 212 940 1261

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

New York Auction 10 May 2016