Robert Motherwell, ‘Pierrot's Hat’, 1943, Bernard Jacobson Gallery

Motherwell referred to this as his first collage, one of two works in the medium that he created on the same day early in 1943 (see also catalogue raisonné Untitled C2). Both of these collages were done in Jackson Pollock's studio, following Peggy Guggenheim's invitation to the two artists to create works for an exhibition of collages by several artists she was planning for April at her New York gallery, Art of this Century. We do not know, however, whether either of Motherwell's first two collages was actually exhibited there, as no checklist or installation photographs survive. The coloured papers used in these first two collages may have been brought back from Motherwell's 1941 trip to Mexico, and the glass button was given to him by Jackson Pollock (Arnason 1966, p. 23). The title Pierrot's Hat was given to this collage considerably later; it was not published with the title until 1982. The title contains a compounded pun: Pierrot is a stock French theatrical figure who wears a distinctive conical hat; and Pierrot is also an affectionate, diminutive form of Pierre, perhaps a reference to the French architect Pierre Chareau, to whom Motherwell gave this collage. The title also refers to Piero della Francesca. In a draft of a letter to E. A. Carmean dated Jul 13, 1971, Motherwell wrote: "But I also loved Piero della Francesca - a church hat of his appears in one of my 2 first collages".

Signature: Signed and dated in pencil lower centre: Motherwell 43 (recto) Signed, dated and inscribed Robert Motherwell / NYC / 6-IV-43 (verso) Artist's studio number C43-5046; C43-5085

Samuel M. Kootz Gallery, New York, October 1949;
New Gallery, Bennington College, Vermont, 1959, cat. no. 5, listed as Collage;
Museum of Modern Art, New York (travelling) "Robert Motherwell," September 1965, cat. no. 2; Amsterdam, cat. no. 2. Turin, cat. no. 2, illus. p. 62 (pl. 2), as Collage.

Arnason, H. H., "On Robert Motherwell and His Early Work," Art International 10, no. 1, January 20, 1966, p. 23, illus. p., 25 (fig. 4), referred to in text and in illustration as Collage;
Wescher, Herta, translated by Robert E. Wolf, Collage, Harry N. Abrams, New York, 1968, pp. 300-301;
Pleynet, Marcelin, "La Méthode de Robert Motherwell,"Tel Quel 71, no. 73, Autumn 1977, p. 189, as Collage;
Arnason, H. H., Robert Motherwell, Harry N. Abrams, New York, 1982, p. 19, pl. 8, illustrated in colour;
Mattison, Robert Saltonstall, "The Art of Robert Motherwell during the 1940s," Ph.D. dissertation, Princeton University, 1985, pp. 97-101, illus. n.p. (fig. 59, as Untitled);
Pleynet, Marcelin, "La Méthode de Robert Motherwell," in Les Etats-Unis de la peinture, Editions du Seuil, Paris, 1986, p. 71, as Collage;
Mattison, Robert Saltonstall, Robert Motherwell: The Formative Years, Studies in the Fine Arts: The Avant-Garde 56, UMI Research Press, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1987, p. 80, illus. p. 84 (fig. 24, as Untitled);
Gildbert, Gregory Mark, "The Alternate Aesthetic: Robert Motherwell's Early Collages and the Formative Years of Abstract Expressionism," Ph.D. dissertation, State University of New Jersey, Rutgers, 1998, pp. 38-39, 93-94, illus. p. 518 (fig. 3).
Flam, J., Rogers, K., Clifford, T., 2012. Robert Motherwell Paintings and Collages: A Catalogue Raisonné 1941 – 1991. New Haven: Yale University Press. Volume 3, p. 2, catalogue rais. no. C1., illustrated in colour.

Mr. and Mrs. Pierre Chareau, cica. 1944
Dollie Chareau, 1950
Private Collection, 1967

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