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Robert Motherwell (American, 1915–1991)
LOT ID: 76526
Untitled, from Portfolio 9, 1967

Lithograph
22.25 х 17.25 in. (56.52 x 43.82 cm.)
Signed, stamped, Hand Signed in pencil lower left with artist's trademark initials; hand numbered lower right from the limited edition of 100; features publishers and printer's distinctive blindstamp lower right

Edition 100
Foundry/Publisher Irwin Hollander, Hollander Workshop, New York
Lot description
Rarely to market, this scarce gestural stone lithograph by 20th century master Robert Motherwell was created in 1967 - one of the most desirable and influential eras in 20th century art. Robert Motherwell was one of the founders and an intellectual leader of the New York School of Abstract Expressionism, whose members included Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Adolph Gottlieb, Mark Rothko and Clyfford Still - and he was the only one of the original group to enthusiastically embrace printmaking early on, collaborating with some of the major workshops of the era - including the famed Irwin Hollander, who printed this piece after leaving Tamarind to come to New York to found his own print studio.

This gestural work was created as part of the legendary 'Portfolio 9' in 1967. Portfolio 9 featured nine of the most important artists of the era, representative of the three major trends: Pop Art, Minimalism and Abstract Expressionism: Roy Lichtenstein, Saul Steinberg, Richard Lindner, Robert Motherwell, Henry Pearson, Louise Nevelson, Sam Francis, Willem de Kooning and Ellsworth Kelly. The Introduction to the portfolio was written by Una E. Johnson, Curator of Prints & Drawings, The Brooklyn Museum. Johnson wrote in 1967 for the colophon page: "The artists were selected to demonstrate the great diversity and character of lithography in the United States today...the dialogue of diverse forms and many faceted idioms that compose this graphic journal mirror the eloquence and delight the strengths and caprices of a period. Furthermore, they reflect in fine measure the creative achievements of artists attuned to their time.." It was housed in a gray cloth-colored box with maroon paper inner panels and a large maroon "9" designed by Richard Lindner on the cover.

Nearly half a century later, this classic Robert Motherwell print has become more scarce, as so many of the 100 are already in the collections of major institutions world wide including the Smithsonian (direct acquisition) MOMA and the Albright Knox Gallery.

The lithograph offered here has superb provenance: it comes directly from 'Portfolio 9', numbered 69/100. This is the very first time since 1967 that this hand signed & numbered print will be separated from the original portfolio presentation box. It is especially uncommon for this celebrated 1960s Motherwell work on paper to come to market in such fine condition; never framed with desirable deckled edges - so it would look terrific floated and framed;

It is fully referenced in both catalogue raisonnes of the Prints of Robert Motherwell, by Stephanie Terenzio and Siri Engberg and Joan Banach, Hudson Hills Press, plate 56, page 96.

According to the description of this print in the catalogue raisonne, " ...Motherwell had Hollander print a large body of proofs from the plate in black on Rives BFK paper which he later hand finished with acrylic paint as unique paper works and titled IH series."

Indeed, Motherwell's Untitled from Portfolio 9 is such a significant lithograph that the zinc plate for the image was later used as an underplate in the Basque Suite (Cat. nos 79-88).

Robert Motherwell, who was once married to Helen Frankenthaler, is considered one of the greatest abstract painters of the 20th Century.
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Untitled, from Portfolio 9 by Robert Motherwell
  • Untitled, from Portfolio 9 by Robert Motherwell
  • Untitled, from Portfolio 9 by Robert Motherwell
  • Untitled, from Portfolio 9 by Robert Motherwell
  • Untitled, from Portfolio 9 by Robert Motherwell
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