Lot Details

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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Publication: Robert Motherwell: The Complete Prints 1940-1991, Catalogue Raisonne, Siri Engberg/Joan Banach
Catalogue Raisonné: 19, Engberg/Banach
The seller has recorded the following condition for this lot:
Adhesive Failure
Area: Verso, Margin
Notes: This work was once framed, so there are adhesive tape stains on the verso (back) from having been originally framed, in the 1960s when they obviously did not use conservation materials. Visible only from the back.
Degree: Moderate
Indentations / Ding
Area: Other area
Location: Upper right
Notes: there is an approx. 2-2.5 mm indentation upper right, on the white area of the print. This work was once framed and the small indentation/ding was caused by the glass piercing the image.
Degree: Minor

Definition Key
Image The central image area, composition, or focal point; the area inside the margins/plate marks.
Margin Areas bordering the central image, outside the plate marks, or the perimeter area.
Edge The farthest edge of the object.
Verso The reverse/back of the object.

Minor An existing condition which generally does not involve risk of loss.
Moderate Noticeable damage, increasing in severity and/or size; should be monitored or corrected by a conservator.
Major Distinct, recognizable damage; the stability of the work is questionable and risk is a factor. Requires the attention of a conservator.
Extreme Advanced and severe damage; work is insecure and at great risk.

Automatism A is one of Motherwell's most celebrated and widely exhibited prints. Most recently another edition was featured in the show, "Painter's Prints", June 18 - July 31, 2010, Marsha Mateyka Gallery
  • Ships From: New York, USA
  • Shipping Dimensions: 28 x 21 in. (71.12 x 53.34 cm.)
Accepted: Wire Transfer, Check
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