Robert Motherwell: Elegies @ the de Young

Robert Motherwell, Elegy to the Spanish Republic, No. 57, 1957-1961 (SFMoMA, © D
Robert Motherwell, Elegy to the Spanish Republic, No. 57, 1957-1961 (SFMoMA, © Dedalus Foundation, Inc. / Licensed by VAGA, New York)

Patricia Albers reviews Between Life and Death: Robert Motherwell's Elegies in Bay Area Collections at the de Young Museum, San Francisco, on view through March 6, 2016.

Albers writes: "Among the most powerful in the de Young’s exhibition is SFMOMA’s 7 x 9-foot oil and charcoal Elegy to the Spanish Republic, No. 57. Here, as in all of the Elegies, rough-edged vertical black bars and ovoids scaffold a horizontal field, co-existing with areas of activated white. A charcoal line runs along the bottom. A black-on-white-on-black mostly horizontal element commands the top. Behind it in one corner is a washy cinereous patch. Surfaces are rugged, and the ponderous matte blacks feel implacable. The proportions are perfect."