Motherwell's Risk

Brandon Taylor

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Published conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

This essay was commissioned by the Guggenheim Museum for its exhibition of the collages of the artist Robert Motherwell between 1941 and 1951, the majority of which are in private hands and have never been exhibited together. They are significant in being the first substantial body of collage-paintings made at easel-painting scale in Western modernism; because they were made alongside and within a generation of celebrated painters including Jackson Pollock, William Baziotes, Mark Rothko and others; and because they embody the formative experiments that created Motherwell's signature style. I was asked to construct a picture of Motherwell's debts to European artists and art during the 1940s. The essay does not only this, but posits a particularly strong debt to European existential philosophy and writings, which is post-Pearl Harbour America were appearing in America in translation for the first time, as well as lending themselves to America's own versions of existentialism published in Partisan Review and other places . Motherwell's concept of 'risk' turns out to be the vital hinge upon which he and many of his less well-read colleagues in the New York School based their painting practice. 'Giving risk a style' in Motherwell's own phrase, was the manner in which these paper-and-paint works of the 1950s were conceived and executed. The exhibition took place at the Peggy Guggenheim Foundation, Venice during June and July 2013 to coincide with the 2013 Venice Biennale and transferred to the Guggenheim Museum, New York, for the autumn of 2013.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRobert Motherwell
Subtitle of host publicationThe Early Collages
EditorsSusan Davidson
Place of PublicationNew York and Venice
PublisherSolomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York and Venice
Pages30-41
ISBN (Print)978-0-89207-502-7
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Fingerprint

Artist
Debt
Guggenheim Museum
William Baziotes
Signature Style
Philosophy
Guggenheim Foundation
Painters
Venice Biennale
Hinge
Existentialism
Robert Motherwell
Western Modernism
Appearings
Partisan
Art
New York School
Peggy Guggenheim
1940s
Jackson Pollock

Cite this

Taylor, B. (2013). Motherwell's Risk. In S. Davidson (Ed.), Robert Motherwell: The Early Collages (pp. 30-41). New York and Venice: Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York and Venice.
Taylor, Brandon. / Motherwell's Risk. Robert Motherwell: The Early Collages. editor / Susan Davidson. New York and Venice : Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York and Venice, 2013. pp. 30-41
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Taylor, B 2013, Motherwell's Risk. in S Davidson (ed.), Robert Motherwell: The Early Collages. Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York and Venice, New York and Venice, pp. 30-41.

Motherwell's Risk. / Taylor, Brandon.

Robert Motherwell: The Early Collages. ed. / Susan Davidson. New York and Venice : Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York and Venice, 2013. p. 30-41.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Published conference proceedingChapter

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AB - This essay was commissioned by the Guggenheim Museum for its exhibition of the collages of the artist Robert Motherwell between 1941 and 1951, the majority of which are in private hands and have never been exhibited together. They are significant in being the first substantial body of collage-paintings made at easel-painting scale in Western modernism; because they were made alongside and within a generation of celebrated painters including Jackson Pollock, William Baziotes, Mark Rothko and others; and because they embody the formative experiments that created Motherwell's signature style. I was asked to construct a picture of Motherwell's debts to European artists and art during the 1940s. The essay does not only this, but posits a particularly strong debt to European existential philosophy and writings, which is post-Pearl Harbour America were appearing in America in translation for the first time, as well as lending themselves to America's own versions of existentialism published in Partisan Review and other places . Motherwell's concept of 'risk' turns out to be the vital hinge upon which he and many of his less well-read colleagues in the New York School based their painting practice. 'Giving risk a style' in Motherwell's own phrase, was the manner in which these paper-and-paint works of the 1950s were conceived and executed. The exhibition took place at the Peggy Guggenheim Foundation, Venice during June and July 2013 to coincide with the 2013 Venice Biennale and transferred to the Guggenheim Museum, New York, for the autumn of 2013.

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Taylor B. Motherwell's Risk. In Davidson S, editor, Robert Motherwell: The Early Collages. New York and Venice: Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York and Venice. 2013. p. 30-41