Robert Motherwell | An Art Stripped Bare: Birmingham

September 30 - December 22, 2023
Press release
An Art Stripped Bare is an intimate survey of Robert Motherwell’s work on paper from 1965 – 1980. The show’s title comes from Motherwell’s essay What Abstract Art Means to Me (1951). “An art stripped bare” is how Motherwell described one of the most striking aspects of abstract art’s appearance; the absence of objects and subject, an art detached from the natural world.  The nine works on paper that comprise this exhibition exemplify this “nakedness”. Motherwell created each work utilizing a series of elegant gestures in a variety of mediums; oil, ink, charcoal, and gouache. An Art Stripped Bare is the first Motherwell exhibition in metropolitan Detroit since the early 1970s.
Robert Motherwell was born in Aberdeen, Washington, in 1915, and grew up in California. He received his B.A. in philosophy from Stanford University in 1937. He then pursued graduate studies in philosophy at Harvard University and in 1938-39 lived in France, studying French literature. In
1940 he moved to New York City to study art history at Columbia University under Mayer Schapiro. He traveled to Mexico with Roberto Matta in 1941.
Motherwell had his first solo show at Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of This Century Gallery in 1944, and his first museum survey exhibition in 1965 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which subsequently traveled to five European cities. Important retrospectives followed in 1976 (Düsseldorf, Stockholm, Vienna, Edinburgh, and London), 1977 (Paris), 1980 (Madrid and Barcelona), and 1983 (Buffalo NY, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington DC, and New York City). Two drawing-focused exhibitions are worth noting: 1979’s Robert Motherwell Drawings: A Retrospective, 1941 to the Present, at the Janie C. Lee Gallery in Houston; and, in 1997, Robert Motherwell on Paper: Drawings, Prints, Collages, curated by David Rosand for the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Gallery, Columbia University.
Motherwell’s drawings are held in numerous private and public collections, mostly in Europe and North America. The most significant North American institutional holdings include those of the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; the Dedalus Foundation, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. The artist died in Provincetown, Massachusetts, in 1991…  Excerpted From Robert Motherwell Drawing | As Fast as the Mind Itself