Robert Motherwell, ‘Black With No Way Out’, 1983, michael lisi / contemporary art

In 1937, Motherwell heard the novelist and art theorist André Malraux speak at a rally concerning the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939), provoking his interest in a moral issue that would provide the subject and inspiration for his work for the rest of his life. He ultimately produced more than 250 paintings and works on paper exploring the topic, allowing him to express in visual form what he described as a “funeral song for something one cared about.” About the Elegies, Motherwell said, “After a period of painting them, I discovered Black as one of my subjects—and with black, the contrasting white, a sense of life and death which to me is quite Spanish. They are essentially the Spanish black of death contrasted with the dazzle of a Matisse-like sunlight.” Created as an original lithograph in 1983, Black with No Way Out measures 15 x 37 5/8 in. (38 x 95.5 cm.), unframed, is hand-signed and numbered, from the edition of 98 published by Tyler Graphics, Bedford, NY with their blindstamp.

Signature: Signed in pencil, and numbered

About Robert Motherwell

Alongside Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell is considered one of the great American Abstract Expressionist painters. His esteemed intellect not only undergirded his gorgeous, expressive paintings—frequently featuring bold black shapes against fields of color—but also made Motherwell one of the leading writers, theorists, and advocates of the New York School. He forged close friendships with the European Surrealists and other intellectuals over his interests in poetry and philosophy, and as such served as a vital link between the pre-war avant-garde in Europe and its post-war counterpart in New York, establishing automatism and psychoanalysis as central concerns of American abstraction. "It's not that the creative act and the critical act are simultaneous," Motherwell said. "It's more like you blurt something out and then analyze it.

American, 1915-1991, Aberdeen, Washington, based in New York and Greenwich, Connecticut