Robert Motherwell, ‘Spanish Elegy’, 1987, de Young Museum

Robert Motherwell (American, 1915-1991), “Spanish Elegy” in the book “Three Poems” (New York: The Limited Editions Club), 1987. Lithograph. 54.7 x 45 cm. Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Achenbach Foundation, gift of Paula Zurcher. Art © Dedalus Foundation Inc./Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Image rights: Image courtesy of Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Publisher: New York: The Limited Editions Club

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