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Liebchen, 1984/1985



Liebchen, 1984/1985

Acrylic and pasted papers on canvas mounted on board
36 x 24 in. (91.4 x 61 cm)

Alternative Title

Storm of White




Recto, upper right: RM \ 85
Verso (on strainer): “LIEBCHEN” FOR RENATE ♥ Xmas, 1986
Verso: for Renate \ R. Motherwell 1984 \ acrylic on canvas \ [circle and directional arrow indicating orientation of painting]


Renate Ponsold Motherwell


Renate Ponsold Motherwell, 1985


Provincetown Art Association and Museum, Mass., Long Point: An Artists’ Place (1977–1998), July 13–September 2, 2012.


In the 2012 Catalogue Raisonné an earlier version of this work, called A Storm of White, was reproduced as C716. We now know that in 1985 Motherwell reworked that collage, retitled it Liebchen, and dedicated it on the verso, as he had the earlier version, to his wife Renate. The radical reworking of the collage involved rotating the canvas support 180 degrees and adding new collage elements that changed the dominant colors from black and blue to black and burnt sienna.
The composition includes fragments of the print At the Edge, 1984 (Engberg and Banach 2003, no. 345). And the word Liebchen (“sweetheart” or “dear” in German) is written on white paper near the center of the work. This word was also used in one of the etchings Motherwell made as an illustration for the Arion Press edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses published in 1988 (Engberg and Banach 2003, nos. 445.5 and 450). Motherwell said of that etching: “One plate says ‘Liebchen’ in savage calligraphy. Joyce experts have pointed out to me that liebchen is a word that does not occur in Ulysses. He never wrote the word. My wife happens to be German-born. ‘Liebchen’ is, so to speak, my Molly, my female figure, and since I am not making a scholarly work, I’ll take the right to put my woman into it too” (Motherwell in an interview with David Hayman, July 1988). Motherwell completed dozens of drawings for the Ulysses project during the summer of 1985, when he reworked this collage.
The composition of this collage was used as the basis for the printed ground in Motherwell’s 1986 Alphabet Series (Engberg and Banach 2003, no. 375).


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