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Robert Motherwell on Paper: Gesture, Variation, and Continuity

October 17 to December 13, 1997

Marsh Art Gallery


Abstract art is stripped bare of other things in order to intensify its rhythms, spatial intervals, and color structure, a process of emphasis. - Robert Motherwell

The renowned Abstract Expressionist artist Robert Motherwell (1915-1991), best known as a painter, produced a remarkable body of works on paper. His drawings, prints, and collages show an intimate side of his visual sensibility and reveal the very personal "handwriting" of the artist as he responded to the subtleties of paper, both as a medium and a material.

The exhibition is divided into eleven themes or sections, and organized around serial creation, such as his "Lyric Suite" series, and thematic continuities, as seen in his well-known "elegies" motif. Motherwell's works on paper demonstrate the complex relationship between abstraction and figuration. The works present the artist's creative gesture in its various manifestations, as immediate impulse, as dialectic response, and as deliberate variation.

This exhibition guide and extended copy on the wall labels were developed as part of an art history course, "The Modern in America," taught during the 1997 Fall Semester at the University of Richmond by Stephen Addiss, Tucker-Boatwright Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Art History. Dr. Addiss' students researched and worked on this brochure and selected the quotes used in the brochure and on the exhibition labels. The students were: Scott S. Allen, Mott Avitable, Maggie Brining, Henry Chong, Fiona Howl, Mark Karau, Annie Lipscomb, Karen Morgan, Johnny Nixon, Diana Thompson Vincelli, Joseph L. Winland, Jr., and Christy Yarnell.

The exhibition is organized and circulated by the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University, and curated by David Rosand. At the Marsh Art Gallery, the exhibition is made possible with the generous support of the University of Richmond Cultural Affairs Committee.

Richard Waller

Director, Marsh Art Gallery, University of Richmond

Publication Date



University of Richmond Museums


Richmond, VA


Robert Motherwell, paper, art, Marsh Art Gallery, exhibition, Abstract Expressionist, collage, painter, Lyric Suite


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Robert Motherwell on Paper: Gesture, Variation, and Continuity