Early Robert Motherwell

The Emergence of the Artist at Paul Kasmin NYC

The Hotel Corridor, 1950

This unique exhibition of Robert Motherwell at Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York City is wonderful in so many ways. We get to witness the artist’s early explorations in painting and his changing creative direction. Initially, Motherwell was under a Surrealist influence and we get to see the movement from figuration to an affinity for pure abstraction.

Reunited for the first time in this curation are Motherwell’s first two realized paintings as an avowed artist, La Belle Mexicaine (Maria), 1941 and Three Figures, 1941, which has never before been on public view. In 1942 Motherwell went to a solo exhibit by Piet Mondrian nearly a dozen times in New York at the Valentine Gallery. Mondrian’s work so inspired Motherwell that he began to paint geometrically. This approach is represented by Recuerdo de Coyoacan, 1942 and The Sentinel, 1942. The Sentinel was acquired by Peggy Guggenheim. The Spanish Prisoner (Window), 1943-1944 was included in the artist’s first solo show at the Guggenheim’s Art of this Century in 1944 and is indicative of his new commitment to the geometric.

As the 1940’s progressed, Motherwell continued exploring his painting and collage techniques in a startlingly strong and brave way. We see the bold stark layering of his painting evolve toward the revolutionary collages that were created in his studio at the same time. Line Figure on Green,1945 and Orange Personage, 1947 bring to life this new wave of work and ambition in a brilliant way.

It is a dazzling short history of a master artist in his early career executing his visual desires, finding his influences and forming amazing paintings.


Robert Motherwell La Belle Mexicaine 1941
La Belle Mexicaine (Maria), 1941


Robert Motherwell Untitled, 1951
Untitled, 1951


Robert Motherwell The Dark Lady 1947
The Dark Lady, 1947


Robert Motherwell The Sentinel 1942
The Sentinel, 1942.


Robert Motherwell line figure on green 1945
Line Figure on Green, 1945.


Robert Motherwell untitled 1950
Untitled, 1950.


Robert Motherwell Three Figures 1941
Three Figures, 1941.