Robert Motherwell, ‘In the Studio’, 1984, Bernard Jacobson Gallery

This work was begun in 1984 and an early version was shown in Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum that December. Motherwell added the black and sienna areas some time after the Guggenheim exhibition closed in February 1985 and before the painting was consigned to Knoedler and Company in February 1986.

This piece demonstrates Motherwell’s interest not only in painting, but also with automatism. Throughout his career he was drawn to automatism as a means of allowing his art to take on meaning, which could convey the deeper, unconscious modes of human thinking. Splashing, dropping, pouring, smudging, and doodling were all automatic elements of his technique which allowed him to find meaning within what emerged through color and paint. He often used painting to convey these ideas, seeking to bring no preconceived ideas of what the outcome of his works would be.

Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, Robert Motherwell, New York, 6 December - 3 February 1984, no. 94 (illustrated, shown in earlier version).
Galeria Joan Prats, Robert Motherwell, Barcelona, 1986, no. 48 (illustrated, n.p.). This exhibition later travelled to Palau Solleric, Palma de Mallorca; Museo de Bellas Artes, Bilbao (ilustrated, p. 27) and Galeria Juana Mordo, Madrid.
Pearl Lam Gallery, Hong Kong, Form, Gesture, Feeling: Robert Motherwell 1915 - 1991, A Centennial Exhibition, 9 September - 6 November 2015

Miralles, F. "Paeso por la obra de Robert Motherwell: el gusto por la complejidad" in La Vanguardia, 11 November 1986 (illustrated, p. 41).
Garesse, A. "Robert Motherwell" in Formas Plasticas, April 1987 (illustrated, p. 20).
Soler, J. "La pintura española del americano Robert Motherwell", Diario 16, 11 March 1987 (illustrated, p. 37).
Flam, J., Rogers, K., Clifford, T., 2012. Robert Motherwell Paintings and Collages: A Catalogue Raisonné 1941 – 1991. New Haven: Yale University Press. Volume 2, p. 528, Cat.rais.no. P1101.

Dedalus Foundation, New York, 1991
Bernard Jacobson Gallery, London, 2011

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