The Writings of Robert Motherwell
Barthelme Syllabus Remaining
About this book
Robert Motherwell (1915-1991), one of the leading American Abstract Expressionist painters, was also a theorist and exponent of the movement. His writing articulated the intent of the New York school —Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Adolph Gottlieb, Franz Kline, Arshile Gorky, and others—during a period when their work was often reviled for its departure from traditional representation. As founder of the Documents of Modern Art series (later renamed the Documents of Twentieth-Century Art), Motherwell gave modern artists a voice at a time when very few people understood their theories or work. This authoritative new edition of the artist's writings about art includes public lectures, essays, and interviews. Impeccably edited, with an informative introductory essay and rigorous annotation, it is illustrated with black-and-white images that elucidate Motherwell's writings.
After years and years of lectures and essays about Modernism, I think this is the first collection that really made it all click in my head. Motherwell was a lucid writer who used every opportunity to try to explain the emerging (and later fading) Modernist movement to the lay public. Because this book draws together a wide selection of his writing and lectures for many different purposes, you get to see him churn over some of the same ideas and problems in different contexts. In chronological order you can almost see his point of view as a painter cohere and eventually sharpen. Suddenly the project of Modernism in general and Abstract Expressionism in particular seems vibrant and essential to the survival of the artist, culture at large be damned.