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Block Museum of Art to Show Robert Motherwell and Henry Moore Exhibitions this Fall
Robert Motherwell, Elegy to the Spanish Republic # 167 (Spanish Earth Elegy), 1985, acrylic, charcoal on canvas mounted on wood. Collection of the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Gift of Margaret and Angus Wurtele and the Dedalus Foundation, 1995. © Dedalus Foundation, Inc./Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.
EVANSTON, IL. A sweeping retrospective of a major American artist’s work and an unusual print portfolio by one of the most important British sculptors of the 20th century grace Northwestern University’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art this fall.

The art and rhetoric of Robert Motherwell (1915–91) helped define the New York School, a group of abstract painters active in the 1940s and 1950s that also included Jackson Pollack, Mark Rothko, and Willem de Kooning. With an extensive academic background, Motherwell acted as the movement’s unofficial spokesperson, writing and speaking about his generation of artists.

Influenced by surrealism and psychology, Motherwell employed techniques designed to release the artistic process from rational control and express the subconscious, as seen, for example, in his “Red Pencil Automatism” and “Lyric Suite” drawings. His art explored themes both intimate, such as a series of collages incorporating personal items like cigarette packets and pieces of mail, and international, like “Elegies to the Spanish Republic,” a subject he reworked in various formats throughout his life.

“Robert Motherwell: An Attitude Toward Reality, From the Collection of the Walker Art Center” offers an overview and introduction to the artist, spanning more than four decades of his career with more than 40 drawings, collages, prints, and paintings. Organized by the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, the exhibition is in the Block Museum’s Main Gallery September 25 to December 6.

Henry Moore (1898–1936) may be best known for his monumental bronze sculptures situated as public art in locations around the world (his iconic 1981 work “Interior Form” is just outside the Block Museum’s main entrance), but Moore’s creative output included drawing and printmaking as well. In the 1960s the artist became intrigued by the skull of an African elephant kept in the London garden of his friends Sir Julian and Lady Juliette Huxley. The Huxleys eventually gave the skull to Moore, who examined the object’s internal and external spaces in a series of etchings printed as an album in 1970. Moore called the works “a mixture of observation and imagination,” noting that while studying and drawing the skull up close he “. . . could begin to see in it great deserts and rocky landscapes, big caves in the sides of hills, great pieces of architecture, columns, and dungeons.”


Block Museum of Art | Robert Motherwell | Henry Moore | Jackson Pollack | Mark Rothko | Willem de Kooning |


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