Robert Motherwell, Octavio Paz, Three Poems XIII, 1987. Courtesy of RoGallery.

Robert Motherwell: Three Poems/Octavio Paz

“My vocabulary works like poetry,” Robert Motherwell once said of his artwork’s visual language. “It is not an illustration but a series of explosions, fireworks or, on the contrary, a kind of contained silence.” Motherwell, a well-known lover of poetry, befriended a number of celebrated writers over the course of his career. One of them was his dear friend Octavio Paz, a prolific Mexican poet, essayist, and Nobel Prize winner. After dedicating several works to one another, Motherwell and Paz finally collaborated to produce Three Poems (1987–88), a suite of 27 lithographs accompanied by Paz’s poetry translated into English, initially inspired by the duo’s vacation in Mexico in 1967. After a small initial run in 1981–82, the complete set was revived by the New York print shop, the Limited Editions Club, in an edition of 750 in 1987–88. Though a complete set of Three Poems rarely reaches the market, single lithographs from the 1987–88 edition can still be collected today.

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