Robert Motherwell, ‘Wall Painting with Stripes’, 1944 -1945, Dedalus Foundation

This painting started out as a figurative image called The Spanish Jailer’s Wife. Motherwell gradually transformed it into a flatter and more abstract image, one of his first really “non-objective” paintings. The rhythmic procession of broad, vertical, ochre and whitish bands played against irregularly shaped
black and gray forms, anticipates the kinds of contrasting archetypal forms that he would use in his
Elegy paintings a few years later.

Additional information provided by the Dedalus Foundation

The Art Institute of Chicago. Restricted gift of Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman in honor of her grandchildren, Ellen Steinberg and Peter Steinberg; gift of Lannan Foundation, 1997.161

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