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The Writings of Robert Motherwell

Robert Motherwell (Author), Dore Ashton (Editor), Joan Banach (Editor), Jack Flam (Foreword)

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Paperback, 397 pages
ISBN: 9780520250482
May 2007
$38.95, £28.95
Robert Motherwell (1915-1991), one of the leading American Abstract Expressionist painters, was also a theorist and exponent of the movement. His writing articulated the intent of the New York school —Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Adolph Gottlieb, Franz Kline, Arshile Gorky, and others—during a period when their work was often reviled for its departure from traditional representation. As founder of the Documents of Modern Art series (later renamed the Documents of Twentieth-Century Art), Motherwell gave modern artists a voice at a time when very few people understood their theories or work. This authoritative new edition of the artist's writings about art includes public lectures, essays, and interviews. Impeccably edited, with an informative introductory essay and rigorous annotation, it is illustrated with black-and-white images that elucidate Motherwell's writings.
PREFACE AND ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

INTRODUCTION BY DORE ASHTON

NOTES ON MONDRIAN AND CHIRICO, 1942

REVIEW OF ART OF THIS CENTURY, ca. 1943

NOTE ON MODERN ART, ca. 1943

PREFACE TO APOLLINAIRE’S THE CUBIST PAINTERS, 1944

THE MODERN PAINTER’S WORLD, 1944

PLATE CAPTION IN ABSTRACT AND SURREALIST ART IN AMERICA, 1944

REVIEW OF CALDER’S THREE YOUNG RATS, 1944

PAINTERS’ OBJECTS, 1944

PREFACE TO MONDRIAN’S PLASTIC ART AND PURE PLASTIC ART, 1945

PERSONAL STATEMENT, 1945

REVIEW OF HENRY MOORE’S SCULPTURE AND DRAWINGS, 1945

PREFACE TO PAALEN’S FORM AND SENSE, ca. 1945

STATEMENT, 1946

BEYOND THE AESTHETIC, 1946

STATEMENT, 1947

EDITORIAL PREFACE TO POSSIBILITIES I, 1947

PREFATORY NOTE TO MAX ERNST: BEYOND PAINTING, 1948

PREFATORY NOTE TO JEAN ARP’S ON MY WAY, 1948

A TOUR OF THE SUBLIME, 1948

PRELIMINARY NOTICE TO APOLLINAIRE’S THE CUBIST PAINTERS, 1949

PRELIMINARY NOTICE TO KAHNWEILER’S THE RISE OF CUBISM, 1949

PRELIMINARY NOTICE TO RAYMOND’S FROM BAUDELAIRE TO SURREALISM, 1949

A PERSONAL EXPRESSION, 1949

REFLECTIONS ON PAINTING NOW, 1949

ABSTRACT ART AND THE REAL, 1949

BLACK OR WHITE, 1950

FOR DAVID SMITH, 1950

PREFACE TO DUTHUIT’S THE FAUVIST PAINTERS, 1950

THE NEW YORK SCHOOL, 1950

EXPRESSIONISM, ca. 1950

A STATEMENT AND INTRODUCTION TO THE ILLUSTRATIONS IN MODERN ARTISTS IN AMERICA, 1951

NOTES ON CY TWOMBLY, 1951

PREFACE AND INTRODUCTION TO THE DADA PAINTERS AND POETS, 1951

PREFACE [“THE SCHOOL OF NEW YORK”], 1951

POSTSCRIPT TO THE PREFACE [“THE SCHOOL OF NEW YORK”], 1951

WHAT ABSTRACT ART MEANS TO ME, 1951

THE RISE AND CONTINUITY OF ABSTRACT ART, 1951

APROPOS “TRADITIONAL” AND “MODERN” METHODS OF TEACHING ART, 1952

IS THE FRENCH AVANT-GARDE OVERRATED? 1953

PREFACE TO A JOSEPH CORNELL EXHIBITION, 1953

SYMBOLISM, 1954

THE PAINTER AND THE AUDIENCE, 1954

OF FORM AND CONTENT, ca. 1954

THE ARTIST AND MODERN SOCIETY, 1955

THE ARTIST’S LIFE, 1956

NOTES ON BRADLEY WALKER TOMLIN, 1957

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF MIRÓ, 1959

LECTURE WITH CHARLES R. HULBECK, 1959

STATEMENT FOR “CONVERSATIONS WITH ARTISTS,” 1960

WHAT SHOULD A MUSEUM BE? 1961

PAINTING AS EXISTENCE: AN INTERVIEW WITH DAVID SYLVESTER, 1962

HOMAGE TO FRANZ KLINE, 1962

A PROCESS OF PAINTING, 1964

DAVID SMITH: A MAJOR AMERICAN SCULPTOR, 1965

PLATE CAPTION FOR THE STEDELIJK MUSEUM CATALOGUE, 1966

STATEMENT, 1967

ON JACKSON POLLOCK, 1967

ON ROTHKO, 1967

ON THE “LYRIC SUITE,” 1969

INTERVIEW AND LETTER TO MICHEL RAGON, 1969

STATEMENT ON THE “OPEN” SERIES, 1969

MOTHERWELL MUSES, 1969

THOUGHTS ON DRAWING, 1970

ON THE HUMANISM OF ABSTRACTION: THE ARTIST SPEAKS, 1970

STATEMENTS BEFORE CONGRESS, 1970

THE UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE OF CHILDREN’S ART, AND MODERNISM, 1970

ON ROTHKO, A EULOGY, 1970

INTRODUCTION TO CABANNE’S DIALOGUES WITH MARCEL DUCHAMP, 1971

STATEMENT ON RADICALISM IN THE VISUAL ARTS, 1971

A RECOLLECTION OF DAVID SMITH AND THE 1950s, 1972

INTRODUCTION TO THE JOURNAL OF EUGÈNE DELACROIX, 1972

STATEMENT ON PICASSO, 1974

THE NEW YORK SCHOOL (AND SYMBOLISM), ca. 1976

ART AND REALITY, ca. 1976

PARISIAN ARTISTS IN EXILE: NEW YORK 1939–45, 1977

PROVINCETOWN AND DAYS LUMBERYARD: A MEMOIR, 1978

WORDS OF THE PAINTER, 1978

PRESENTATION OF AN AWARD TO ERICK HAWKINS, 1979

THE INTERNATIONAL WORLD OF MODERNIST ART, 1980

NOTES FOR A JOYCE SYMPOSIUM, 1980

IN MEMORIAM: ANTHONY SMITH, 1981

JOURNAL ENTRY, ca. 1981

REFLECTIONS ON ABSTRACT ART, 1982

FOREWORD TO WILLIAM C. SEITZ’S ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONIST PAINTING IN AMERICA, 1983

KAFKA’S VISUAL RECOIL: A NOTE (FOR DORE ASHTON), 1983

ANIMATING RHYTHM, 1984

RESPONSE: WHEN IS A PAINTING FINISHED? 1985

ON NOT BECOMING AN ACADEMIC, 1986

A PERSONAL RECOLLECTION, 1986

NOMINATION OF JASPER JOHNS TO THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF ARTS AND LETTERS, 1988

BIBLIOGRAPHY COMPILED BY KATY ROGERS

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

INDEX
Dore Ashton is Professor of Art History at the Cooper Union and author or editor of over 30 books on modern art and culture, including Noguchi East and West, The New York School: A Cultural Reckoning, A Fable of Modern Art, and A Critical Study of Philip Guston, all from UC Press. Joan Banach worked with Robert Motherwell from 1981 to 1991. She is an artist who lives in New York.
"Robert Motherwell was not just a great painter, he was a brilliant thinker. As the founding editor of The Documents of Twentieth-Century of Art, he decisively shaped our understanding of modernism. This new and expanded selection of Motherwell's criticism provides an essential guide to the art of the high modern period, both American and European."—Pepe Karmel, author of Picasso and the Invention of Cubism

"In the past two decades Abstract Expressionism has become one of the most dynamic subjects in art history; sometimes the reading is so dense it is like swimming through peanut butter. But, cutting through to the essential questions that generated the movement, the writings of Robert Motherwell are a treasure. Written at the same time he was painting, Motherwell's texts make me feel like a witness to the philosophical curiosity that generated one of the most powerful art movements of the twentieth century."—Michael Auping, author of Abstract Expressionism: The Critical Developments

“This book is essential reading for anyone thinking about the uneasy clash of modernism and postmodernism in postwar America; Motherwell’s writing played a decisive role and this volume is an admirably full account of it.”—Jonathan Fineberg, author of When We Were Young: New Perspectives on the Art of the Child

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