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Robert Motherwell (American, 1915–1991)
LOT ID: 74952
Automatism A, 1966

Lithograph, Rives BFK Paper
28 х 21 in. (71.12 x 53.34 cm.)
Signed, stamped, Hand signed in pencil lower right
hand numbered from the edition of 100
signed "M" (reversed) on the plate lower right
bears publishers' distinctive chopmark
Print/Casting Year 1966
Edition 100
Foundry/Publisher Irwin Hollander Workshop
Lot description
This is a scarce, early gestural lithograph on Rives BFK paper by Robert Motherwell, perhaps the most famous member of the New York School of Abstract Expressionists, whose members included Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Adolph Gottlieb, Mark Rothko, Ad Reinhardt, Barnett Newman and Clyfford Still. Although Motherwell was the youngest of the group, he was considered to be its spokesperson and intellectual leader, having studied art history, literature, and philosophy at Stanford, Harvard and Columbia. But it was Motherwell's association with émigré Surrealists like Max Ernst, Yves Tanguy, Andre Masson, and Roberto Matta (whom he traveled with to Mexico) that influenced works like this now famous print, which indeed reflects both the Abstract Expressionist philosophy of self-expression and the European Surrealists' preoccupation with the subconscious. "Automatism" is a psychological term, denoting the separation between a person’s behavior and his or her consciousness of it, which the Surrealists applied to techniques of writing and art that they believed unlocked the creative forces of the unconscious.

According to the catalogue raisonne of Motherwell's prints, Automatism A inaugurates Motherwell's collaboration with the legendary Irwin Hollander, former technical director of Tamarind who opened up his own printmaking workshop on East 10th Street, in New York in 1964. Other editions of this scarce print are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum and other major institutions worldwide.

Robert Motherwell, who was once married to Helen Frankenthaler, is considered one of the greatest artists of the 20th century.

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Automatism A by Robert Motherwell
  • Automatism A by Robert Motherwell
  • Automatism A by Robert Motherwell
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