Robert Motherwell, ‘Drunk with Turpentine’, 1979, Dedalus Foundation

The title of this series came from the title of a poem by Pablo Neruda, and the gestural pictures were
done with the same kind of spontaneous outpouring of energy and inventiveness that had marked the Lyric Suite drawings more than a decade earlier. Motherwell loved to work on paper, which he called “the most sympathetic of all painting surfaces,” and he later compared the process of painting these two series of works on paper, saying that he felt “happiest when, during the creative process, I simply let work ‘pour out,’ so to speak, without critical intervention or editing."

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Image rights: © Dedalus Foundation, Inc./Licensed by VAGA. New York, NY

Collection of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Museum purchase, the Friends of Art Endowment Fund

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