Robert Motherwell, ‘Jour La Maison, Nuit La Rue’, 1957 -1958, Dedalus Foundation

The title that is inscribed near the center of this picture comes from the opening line of a poem by Paul Eluard: “Jour la maison nuit la rue” (By day at home by night the street). The deeply felt sense of longing that is so evident in the Je t’aime paintings is also darkly present in this picture, which contains the purposely blurred and partially obliterated remnants of the phrase “Je t’aime,” barely decipherable above the words of the title, This painting combines the longing felt in Je t’aime paintings, mixed with a
haunting sense of deep solitude and intensely agitated restlessness.

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

Private Collection

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