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.