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Kasmin is delighted to present Lyric Suite, an exhibition of more than sixty works on paper by Robert Motherwell. Staged in partnership with the Dedalus Foundation, Lyric Suite will go on view at 297 Tenth Avenue from April 28 to June 4, 2022, marking the fifth solo presentation of work by the artist at the gallery.

Conceived by Motherwell as an enterprise of free and vigorous drawing, the Lyric Suite series was executed over the course of a few short weeks and consists of identically scaled compositions analogous to an extended series of musical variations. A virtuosic display of Motherwell’s graphic invention, the works possess a significant emotive power and represent a profound meditation on the history of drawing and of mark making itself.

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Robert Motherwell, Lyric Suite, 1965, ink on paper, 11 x 9 inches

The Lyric Suite drawings owe their distinctive sense of materiality in part to the delicate, translucent qualities of the unryu paper on which they’re rendered, purchased impulsively by the artist in a Japanese store in New York. At 9 x 11 inches, their tightness of scale presented a novel challenge for the artist whose monumental Elegies and Open paintings helped define the heroic visual language of Abstract Expressionism. Embodying Motherwell’s instinctive mastery of color and form, they were accomplished in a manner verging on automatism, fed by a complex interaction of the artist’s recent ideas and experiences:

“It came to me in a flash: paint the thousand sheets without interruption, without a priori traditional or moral prejudices or a posteriori ones, without iconography, and above all without revisions or additions upon critical reflection and judgment. Give up one’s being to the enterprise and see what lies within, whatever it is. Venture. Don’t look back. Do not tire. Everything is open. Brushes and blank white paper!”

Through a burst of productivity in April 1965, Motherwell produced approximately 550 of a planned 1000 works before ceasing abruptly the following month after the death of his close friend, David Smith, in May that same year. He worked prolifically that spring, creating 10 to 50 works a day in black ink and later introducing blue, brown, green, red, and violet. The orange ink bleeds, visible in select works, are in fact pigmented separations of the medium itself.

All The Chaos I Could Stand: Katy Rogers on Robert Motherwell's Lyric Suite

Presenting more than sixty works on paper and staged in partnership with The Dedalus Foundation, Robert Motherwell's Lyric Suite went on view at 297 Tenth Avenue from April 28 to June 4, 2022, marking the fifth solo presentation of work by the artist at the gallery. This talk, held in the exhibition space, features Katy Rogers (Programs Director, The Dedalus Foundation) and Eric Gleason (Senior Director, Kasmin) discussing this unique series of work.
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More information can be found in Kasmin’s Online Viewing Room.