Robert Motherwell, ‘Two Figures No.7’, 1958, Bernard Jacobson Gallery

Motherwell painted this work in Saint-Jean-de-Luz during the summer of 1958.

Small oil sketches embodying the Two Figures theme are widely exuberant exercises in expressionist brush gesture, but the sense of dominant organic images involved in a wild dance persists. These never become overall Abstract Expressionist patterns. They are figures set within a stage of controlled area. "The sense of figuration is always implicit in Elegies and in many other works executed after 1958. The two figures can be associated with his wife and himself, and even though they are presented as black shapes, the predominance of whites ... lends to the conception an air of both lightness and gravity that reflects his mood".

Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, Robert Motherwell, 9 March – 4 April 1959. .

Arnason, H.H. & Dore Ashton, Robert Motherwell, New York: Abrams, 1982, pg. 49 (discussion of theme).
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. 423, W36.

Sidney Janis Gallery, New York.
Mr. and Mrs. William M. Roth Collection, San Francisco.
Anon. sale; Sotheby's, New York, 24 October 1974, lot 607.
Unknown owner, 1974.
Waddington Galleries, London, 1975.
Private collection, 1975.
Dr. and Mrs. Harold J. Joseph, St. Louis.
Christie's, New York, 8 May 1984, lot 6.
Andy Williams, 1984.
Bernard Jacobson Gallery, 2013.

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