Robert Motherwell on Paper

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Tim Keane reviews Robert Motherwell: Works on Paper 1951-1991 at Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York, on view through January 3, 2015.

Keane writes that the show "testifies to that still-radical modernist belief that an artist should try for a maximum degree of innovation on behalf of a totally personalized expression. And there is enough varied, dynamic work here, much of it on a small scale, that can captivate even those wary of Motherwell’s occasional portentousness… The Kasmin show intermingles many gems … 'Librairie Hachette' (1967) features wrinkled brown paper mailer with the painter’s address and assorted postage stickers and stamps. The wrinkled wrapping paper has been layered onto the beautifully painted pale blue and yellow paper. The work, like many of the collages, is both autobiographical and oblique. Collages like 'Untitled (Gran Vin or Red)' (1973) use artifacts of the artist’s daily life — especially his epicurean tastes — and then efface the cultural context by resituating the found materials within abstract planes of starkly contrasting primary colors. His arrangements of paper upon paper create an allusive visual poetry, as atavistic and spare …"

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