Welcome to the third installment of our Curator’s pick post – basically, a “best of” or “favorite” pick by a local curator or art dealer from the works currently on view at their own institution. This week we spoke to Jerald Melberg of Jerald Melberg Gallery who chose an artwork by an artist he greatly admires.
For me, picking a “favorite” work of art would be akin to picking a favorite child. Different works of art solicit different emotions. Some play on one’s nostalgia, some make you happy, some may make you angry, some may even make you question why they exist. But they all have their place.
With that said, I’m not picking a favorite, but I am picking a work of art that I think is worthy to share and I am purposely picking a work that does not have subject matter as we normally conceive of it. Robert Motherwell was one of the great founders of the New York School of Abstract Expressionists, the first true American Art movement. He, along with Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, and others, purported that Art could have meaning and validity without recognizable subject. He was also the writer and apologist for the group.
His oil on paper titled DRUNK WITH TURPENTINE No. 14 is a classic example of the abstract expressionist philosophy of automatic drawing, which is the use of the free-flowing hand without conscious thought. The title for this group of works by Motherwell came from his making of a drawing one afternoon with oil paint thinned with turpentine. The next morning he came back to discover that the turpentine had leached into the paper leaving a “ghost” around his mark. He liked this “controlled accident” so much that he continued trying to repeat it as a series.
The purity, zen, and poetry of Robert Motherwell has always spoken to me in a way that I cannot necessarily express in words, but which carries me somewhere that I very much enjoy being. How else could something so simple hold someone’s attention so thoroughly?
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