Robert Motherwell (1915-1991)
Property from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Hershel Sarbin
Robert Motherwell (1915-1991)

Elegy Sketch with Amber

Robert Motherwell (1915-1991)
Elegy Sketch with Amber
signed with initials and dated 'RM 77' (upper right)
acrylic and charcoal on paper
20 x 30 in. (50.8 x 76.2 cm.)
Executed in 1977.
Knoedler & Company, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner
J. Flam, K. Rogers, T. Clifford, eds., Robert Motherwell Paintings and Collages: A Catalogue Raisonné, 1941-1991, Volume Three: Collages and Paintings on Paper and Paperboard, New Haven and London 2012, p. 591, no. W521 (illustrated in color).
New York, Knoedler & Company, Robert Motherwell, 1978, pp. 10 and 21, no. 26 (illustrated).

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Emily Woodward
Emily Woodward

Lot Essay

"Over many years of involvement in children’s causes, and as a board member of Children’s Rights Inc., I witnessed a huge gap in the world of child advocacy between good works and good communication. I saw an urgent need and a unique opportunity to develop a specialized news medium designed to help all advocates improve the outcomes of their efforts on behalf of abused and neglected children, and, at the same time, encourage a much larger and much needed cohort of caring people to become active champions of children’s rights.”
-Hershel Sarbin

Christie’s is proud to offer several outstanding works from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Hershel Sarbin. Mr. Sarbin has been a passionate advocate for children’s rights for many years, a passion that traces back to his role as a founding member of Harvard Voluntary Defenders, which since 1949, has provided free legal assistance to juvenile and adult indigents accused of crime. Sarbin is a Harvard trained lawyer with a love of media and marketing. Much of his career has been successfully spent as a leader in the field as President of Ziff-Davis Publishing, CEO of Cowles Business Media and Senior Director for Media at Peppers & Rodgers. Utilizing his experience in media and marketing, Sarbin created the Child Advocacy 360 News Network, an independent, nonprofit service that brings to people’s desktops, mailboxes and conversations the latest news and insights on children’s welfare rights, with a particular focus on the struggle to conquer abuse and neglect of children in our society. Early in his career Sarbin earned a reputation as a champion of dialogue to resolve critical issues in media and education. Today, in speeches and executive forums he presents a “high touch” view of a world where “high tech” has too often been seen as destiny itself, and urges a balance that allows us to exploit the benefits of both. Other works from this collection appear as lot 242 and 306.

Motherwell is a painter of series; throughout his career, a relatively small number of compositional starting points or subject matters
intrigued him and he explored the possibilities within each one. One of his most noteworthy series is his Spanish Elegy series for which he is best known. Like many artists of his generation, Motherwell was trained in the rigors and philosophies of automatism. By returning to these definitive, allegorical forms again and again, Motherwell could explore the balance between emotional authenticity and the power of abstract formalism.

In contrast to the stereotype of the Abstract Expressionist painter as inarticulate and brash, Motherwell was an intellectual, publishing
some of the most compelling modern and contemporary art criticism of the Twentieth Century. His critical prowess at times has made him suspect in a movement that prides itself on raw, expressive emotion. Rather than seek to break from the past, as Jackson Pollock was attempting, Motherwell saw his work as part of the art historical dialogue.

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