Robert Motherwell (1915-1991)
Property from the Collection of Lee V. Eastman
Robert Motherwell (1915-1991)

Elegy to the Spanish Republic No. 61

Robert Motherwell (1915-1991)
Elegy to the Spanish Republic No. 61
signed with initials and numbered 'RM 61' (upper right)
oil and graphite on board
7 x 9½ in. (17.8 x 24.1 cm.)
Painted in 1960.
Acquired from the artist
New York, Sidney Janis Gallery, Paintings and Collages by Robert Motherwell, April-May 1961 (illustrated).
Northhampton, Smith College Museum of Art, An Exhibition of the Work of Robert Motherwell, January 1963 (illustrated on the cover of the exhibition catalogue).
Coral Gables, University of Miami, Lowe Art Museum; Chicago, Terra Museum of American Art and New Brunswick, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, The Jane Vorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Abstract Expressionism: Other Dimensions, An Introduction to Small Scale Painterly Abstraction in America, 1940-1965, October 1989-June 1990, pp. 49, 68 and 110, nos. 75, 53 and 90 (illustrated).

Lot Essay

This work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of Paintings & Collages by Robert Motherwell being prepared by the Dedalus Foundation.

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.

Motherwell's first Elegy was painted in 1948. Although the series is associated with mural-sized paintings, many of them began with small drawings and oils, such as the present work, which measures 7 x 9½ inches. The size does not inhibit the artist, however, who constructs the vertical shafts and ovoid forms with the same abstract, rhythmic power that underlies his most successful works, regardless of scale. 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.

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