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FortWorth Install 15

Robert Motherwell: Pure Painting was the first presentation in more than a quarter century to fully examine the mastery of Robert Motherwell (1915–1991), a major figure who shaped postwar art.

Organized by guest curator Susan Davidson, Pure Painting featured a selection of visually compelling works chosen from throughout the artist’s lengthy and influential career. Beginning with the abstracted-figurative works that dominated Motherwell’s first decade of painting as he emerged in the New York art world in the early 1940s, the exhibition highlighted the subsequent key series that defined his oeuvre, offering new insights into his evolution as an artist. Although he was equally proficient as a collagist, a printmaker, and a draftsman, it is Motherwell’s expansive sense of painting that this retrospective explored.

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Installation images, Kunstforum Wien, copyright Kunstforum Wien, Hannes Böck

Tuesday Evening Lecture - Susan Davidson, Catherine Craft and Katy Rogers

The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth hosted a conversation between art historians Catherine Craft and Katy Rogers in conjunction with the exhibition “Robert Motherwell: Pure Painting.” This program was the first of the “Tuesday Evenings at the Modern” 2023 fall season. Susan Davidson, guest curator of Pure Painting provided an overview of the exhibition before turning the evening over to Craft and Rogers, who will discussed Motherwell as an icon of Abstract Expressionism.
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Installation images, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth Photography by Kevin Todora. Courtesy of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth


The Brooklyn Rail – Robert Motherwell: Pure Painting

The Wall Street Journal – ‘Robert Motherwell: Pure Painting’ Review: Giving Form to an Abstractionist’s Career

The New York Times – A Vienna Museum Mounts a Monumental Look at Robert Motherwell

Fort Worth Report – Explore the meaning of abstract expressionism with “Robert Motherwell: Pure Painting” at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

The Dallas Morning News – Review: A heroic Robert Motherwell survey at the Fort Worth Modern

The New Criterion – Thoroughly Modern Motherwell

Pure Painting Cover 2023

Exhibition Catalogue

An intensely intellectual painter, Robert Motherwell is renowned for his distinctive Abstract Expressionist style. The seminal artist permeated his gestural works with an expressionism and austerity reflective of the human psyche; at the same time his oeuvre addressed political and humanitarian themes. Robert Motherwell: Pure Painting is an in-depth exploration of his artistic practice. Leading art scholars examine the American artist’s turn from Surrealism to abstraction and analyze the major series that developed over his fifty-year career. The catalogue studies the dialogue between Motherwell’s art and the nineteenth-century French painting tradition, investigates his relationship to Spanish techniques and processes, with an emphasis on their underlying political significance, and delves into Motherwell’s use of ochre pigment, with its evocation of both deep geological time and avant-garde practices.

Purchase Exhibition Catalogue