oil and sand on canvas
139.1 x 94.0 (cm)
54.8 x 37.0 (inch)As a child, Robert Motherwell was suffering from asthma. His parents moved to California with him. The wide open spaces, blue sky, and ochre hills later inspired his abstract paintings. The orange and ochre colours of the present painting reflect that.
Motherwell moved to New York in 1940 to study at Columbia University with art historian Meyer Schapiro. He introduced Motherwell to a group of Surrealists: Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, and André Masson. They were his first great influence. He travelled to Mexico with Roberto Matta, where he met Wolfgang Paalen, who became another important influence. Motherwell decided that it was time for a new artistic movement. He visited Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, Hans Hofmann and others. Peggy Guggenheim gave him the first solo exhibition in 1944, and that year the Museum of Modern Art acquired a painting. Motherwell’s art was informed by many avant-garde artistic movements, such as Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, Colour Field Painting and Informel. But from all these, he developed his own unmistakeable painting style, which shows the artist’s outstanding intellect in the simple shapes, the daring colours, and the fine equilibrium of his works.