Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Elegy to the Spanish Republic No. 35

Artist:
Robert Motherwell (American, Aberdeen, Washington 1915–1991 Provincetown, Massachusetts)
Date:
1954–58
Medium:
Oil and Magna on canvas
Dimensions:
80 1/4 x 100 1/4 in. (203.8 x 254.6 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
The Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman Collection, Gift of Muriel Kallis Newman, in memory of Albert Hardy Newman, 2006
Accession Number:
2006.32.46
Not on view
Motherwell began the series Elegies for the Spanish Republic in 1948 and continued it for some twenty-five years, producing a group of over 150 paintings. Originally inspired by the poetry of Federico García Lorca and the tragedies of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), the Elegies all share a similar compositional structure made up of brushily painted black ovals on a field of white held in place by loose ribbons of black. It has been suggested that these shapes refer to the quintessentially Spanish figure of the bull and may relate to Picasso's black-and-white painting Guernica (1937), on view at the Museum of Modern Art from 1939. Motherwell felt these works could express in visual terms "a funeral song for something one cared about"-an abstract meditation on life and death in the colors of radiance and mourning.
Inscription: Signed, dated, and inscribed (verso): "ELEGY FOR THE SPANISH/ REPUBLIC, XXXV."/ Robert Motherwell/ 1954–58
[Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, 1958; sold in 1958 to Newman]; Muriel Kallis Newman, Chicago (1958–2006; her gift to MMA)

Kunsthalle Basel. "Die neue amerikanische Malerei," April 19–May 26, 1958, no. 48 (as "Elegie an die Spanische Republik XXXV," lent by the Sidney Janis Gallery, New York).

Milan. Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna. "The New American Painting / La nuova pittura americana," June 1–29, 1958, no. 48 (as "Elegia alla Repubblic Spagnola XXXV," lent by the Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, New York).

Berlin. Hochschule für Bildende Künste. "Die neue amerikanische Malerei," September 1–October 1, 1958, no. 48 (as "Elegie an die Spanische Republik XXXV," lent by the Sidney Janis Gallery, New York).

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. "Jong America schildert," October 17–November 24, 1958, no. 48 (as "Elegie voor de spaanse repubiiek XXXV," lent by the Sidney Janis Gallery, New York).

Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels. "The New American Painting / La Nouvelle Peinture américaine," December 6, 1958–January 4, 1959, no. 48 (as "Elégie à la république espagnole XXXV," lent by the Sidney Janis Gallery, New York).

Paris. Musée National d'Art Moderne. "Jackson Pollock et la nouvelle peinture américaine," January 16–February 15, 1959, no. 47 (as "Élégie a la République Espagnole XXV," lent by the Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, New York).

London. Tate Gallery. "The New American Painting As Shown in Eight European Countries 1958–1959," February 24–March 23, 1959, no. 47 (as "Elegy for the Spanish Republic XXXV," lent by the Sidney Janis Gallery, New York).

Museum of Modern Art, New York. "The New American Painting As Shown in Eight European Countries 1958–1959," May 28–September 8, 1959, no. 47 (as "Elegy for the Spanish Republic XXXV," lent by Mr and Mrs Albert Newman, Chicago).

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "An American Choice: The Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman Collection," May 21–September 27, 1981, unnumbered cat. (p. 83).

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Abstract Expressionism and Other Modern Works: The Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 17, 2007–February 3, 2008, extended to March 2, 2008, no. 50.

New York. Dominique Lévy. "Robert Motherwell: Elegy to the Spanish Republic," November 4, 2015–January 9, 2016, no. 1.

"A Boom in U.S. Art Abroad: Japan and Europe Go for Americans." Life 44 (May 19, 1958), ill. p. 78 (installation photo Exh. Basel 1958).

"American Abstraction Abroad." Time 72 (August 4, 1958), p. 43, ill. (color, installation view of Exh. Milan 1958), calls it "Elegy for the Spanish Republic XXXV".

Robert Motherwell. "The Motherwell Show." Arts Magazine 33 (May 1959), p. 8, calls it "Elegy to the Spanish Republic".

Eleanor Page. "She Lives in an Art Museum." Chicago Tribune (September 13, 1964), sec. 5, p. 3, ill.

Frank O'Hara. Robert Motherwell. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York. New York, 1965, ill. p. 81 (poster for "Motherwell" exhibition, Sidney Janis Gallery, 1959, showing this painting in Motherwell's studio).

Barry Ulanov. The Two Worlds of American Art: The Private and the Popular. New York, 1965, p. 96, calls it "Elegy for the Spanish Republic XXXV".

Donald L. Hoffman. "Last Words on That Boston Painting." Kansas City Star (August 21, 1966), ill. p. 8f.

Robert C. Hobbs. "Motherwell's Concern with Death in Painting: An Investigation of His Elegies to the Spanish Republic, Including an Examination of His Philosophical and Methodological Considerations." PhD diss., University of North Carolina, 1975, pp. 218, 260, pl. 18.

H. H. Arnason. Robert Motherwell. New York, 1977, pp. 34, 43, pl. 81 (installation photo), calls it "Elegy to the Spanish Republic No. 35".

Monica Meenan. "The Vigorous Collectors." Town and Country 132 (September 1978), ill. p. 148.

Judith Goldman. "Collecting in Chicago: 'Love Affairs with Art'." Art News 78 (February 1979), p. 49.

Alice Hess. "Great Private Collections: A Chicago Visionary." Saturday Review 7 (October 1980), p. 72, calls it "Elegy to the Spanish Republic # XXXV".

Grace Glueck. "Met Is Given a $12 Million Art Collection." New York Times (December 10, 1980), p. B7.

Hilton Kramer. "Modernist Show Moves Met Firmly into Art of 20th Century." New York Times (May 22, 1981), pp. C1, C21, calls it "Elegy to the Spanish Republic, 35".

Diana Loercher-Pazicky. "Une Donation bienvenue." Connaissance des arts no. 354 (August 1981), ill. p. 20.

M. W. Newman. "Chicago." Franklin Mint Almanac 12 (July–August 1981), ill. p. 20 (color, installation photo).

Grace Glueck. "Is Chicago Losing Out in the Art War?" New York Times (August 2, 1981), sec. 2, p. 1, calls it "Elegy".

Diana Loercher-Pazicky. "The Newman Bequest." Connaissance des arts no. 19 (August 1981), ill. p. 16 (color), calls it "Elegy to the Spanish Republic, XXXV".

H. H. Arnason. Robert Motherwell. 2nd rev. ed. (1st ed., 1977). New York, 1982, pp. 34, 43, pl. 35 (installation photo), calls it "Elegy to the Spanish Republic No. 35".

Theodore F. Wolff. "The Many Masks of Modern Art." Christian Science Monitor (January 5, 1982), ill. p. 20, calls it "Elegy to the Spanish Republic, 35".

Eugene Victor Thaw. "The Abstract Expressionists." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 44 (Winter 1986–87), p. 43, fig. 33 (color), calls it "Elegy to the Spanish Republic, 35".

William Agee. "Muriel Kallis Newman–Life Among the Moderns." Architectural Digest (December 1986), p. 70, calls it "Elegy to the Spanish Republic, No. 35".

Gary Tinterow in Abstract Expressionism and Other Modern Works: The Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ed. Gary Tinterow, Lisa Mintz Messinger, and Nan Rosenthal. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, p. 6, calls it "Elegy to the Spanish Republic".

Pepe Karmel in Abstract Expressionism and Other Modern Works: The Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ed. Gary Tinterow, Lisa Mintz Messinger, and Nan Rosenthal. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, pp. 160–64, no. 50, ill. (color), calls it "Elegy to the Spanish Republic, No. 35".

Jack Flam, Katy Rogers, and Tim Clifford. Robert Motherwell Paintings and Collages: A Catalogue Raisonné, 1941–1991. Vol. 2, Paintings on Canvas and Panel. New Haven, 2012, pp. 104–6, no. P168, ill. (color), calls it "Elegy for the Spanish Republic XXXV" with the alternate title "Elegy to the Spanish Republic No. 35".

Jack Flam in Jack Flam Katy Rogers and Tim Clifford. Robert Motherwell Paintings and Collages: A Catalogue Raisonné, 1941–1991. Vol. 1, Essays and References. New Haven, 2012, pp. 73, 78, 93–94, fig. 52 (color), ill. p. 62 (installation photo), calls it "Elegy to the Spanish Republic XXXV"; states that the artist finished this painting shortly before marrying Helen Frankenthaler; relates that the Franco–run Spanish government insisted the title of this painting be changed for Exh. Basel and tour 1958–59, and that the artist refused and pulled all of his works from the show at the Madrid venue.

Bernard Jacobson. Robert Motherwell: The Making of an American Giant. [London], 2015, p. 82.

Dominique Lévy et al. Robert Motherwell: Elegy to the Spanish Republic. Exh. cat., Dominique Lévy. New York, 2015, pp. 109–10, 116, colorpl.1, ill. p. 109 (black and white, in artist's studio).



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