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FortWorth Install 15

Robert Motherwell: Pure Painting is 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. The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth is an especially fitting venue to mount this exhibition given its institutional commitment to the artist’s work, holding over fifty works in a variety of media in its collection and hosting the final retrospective organized during Motherwell’s lifetime in 1991.

Organized by guest curator Susan Davidson, Pure Painting features 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 highlights 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 explores.

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Photography by Kevin Todora. Courtesy of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.

Upcoming event

On September 12th, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth will host a conversation between art historian Catherine Craft and artist Carrie Moyer in conjunction with the exhibition Robert Motherwell: Pure Painting. This program will be the first of the “Tuesday Evenings at the Modern” 2023 fall season.

Susan Davidson, guest curator of Pure Painting will open with a brief overview of the exhibition before turning the evening over to Craft and Moyer, who will discuss Motherwell as an icon of Abstract Expressionism.

Click here for ticket information

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Two Figures with Cerulean Blue Stripe, 1960, oil on canvas, 84 ✕ 109 1/4 in. (213.4 ✕ 277.5 cm)
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The Homely Protestant, 1948, oil and casein on Masonite, 97 3/4 ✕ 48 1/4 in. (248.3 ✕ 122.6 cm)
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Opening events: May 30 - June 1, 2023. All photographs courtesy of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.
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