Robert Motherwell, ‘The Homely Protestant’, 1948, Dedalus Foundation

The Homely Protestant marks Motherwell’s transition between recognizable figuration and the greater abstraction characteristic of his later works. This picture embodies, in a very different and original way, the mysterious combination of tactility and spirituality characteristic of the best Analytical Cubist paintings. It has a similarly disembodied, metaphysical quality and built-in suspension of time, and like
those earlier paintings it carries us into a kind of no man’s land between abstraction and representation.

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

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Gift of the artist, 1987 (1987.60)

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