Robert Motherwell Drawing: As Fast as the Mind Itself

Nov 18, 2022 – Mar 12, 2023
Menil Drawing Institute

The youngest and most erudite of the Abstract Expressionists, Robert Motherwell (1915–1991) created a remarkable body of drawings in a wide range of techniques and styles over the course of his career. His interest in drawing stemmed from a fascination with paper as a support and from a continuous search for a personal, spontaneous language of mark-making. Inspired by Surrealism and the practice of automatic drawing, Motherwell embraced the suggestive potential of his materials, blending the accidental and the intentional in the creative gesture, whether a stroke of the pen or the brush or a tear of paper.

With more than 100 works spanning the artist’s career from the 1940s through the 1980s, this exhibition is the most comprehensive on the topic in decades and traces the full arc of Motherwell’s activity as a draftsman. His multifaceted practice was geared towards invention and variation, and while it evolved stylistically, it remained united by thematic continuities and his desire to draw “as fast as the mind itself.”

A fully illustrated catalogue published by the Menil accompanies the exhibition and is available in the Menil Bookstore. The show is organized by the Menil with the support of the Dedalus Foundation and celebrates the publication of Robert Motherwell Drawings: A Catalogue Raisonné, a two-volume publication devoted to Motherwell’s drawings.

Robert Motherwell Drawing: As Fast as the Mind Itself is curated by Edouard Kopp, John R. Eckel, Jr. Foundation Chief Curator, Menil Drawing Institute.

This exhibition is generously underwritten by Kathy and George Britton.

Additional support comes from Angela and William Cannady; Diane and Michael Cannon; Julie and John Cogan, Jr.; Cindy and David Fitch; Barbara and Michael Gamson; Linda and George Kelly; Dillon Kyle and Sam Lasseter; Janie C. Lee; Mary Hale Lovett McLean; Carol and David Neuberger; Susanne and William E. Pritchard III; Leslie and Shannon Sasser; Mark Wawro and Melanie Gray; Ann and Mathew Wolf Drawing Exhibition Fund; and the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance.

“Robert Motherwell Drawing: As Fast as the Mind Itself” at the Menil Drawing Institute, Houston. Video: Jay Clark
Panel Discussion: Cataloguing Robert Motherwell’s Drawings | The Menil Drawing Institute, Houston, TX. November 18, 2022.
Artists on Robert Motherwell: Phong Bui, Joseph Havel, and Angel Otero | The Menil Drawing Institute, Houston, TX. January 12, 2023.
Edith Devaney on Robert Motherwell | The Menil Drawing Institute, Houston, TX. February 9, 2023.