Elegy to the Spanish Republic No. 70

Robert Motherwell American

Not on view

Beginning about 1948, Motherwell began making oil sketches and paintings that evolved into a series of more than one hundred variations on a theme he called Elegies to the Spanish Republic. Initially inspired by the Spanish Civil War (1936–39) and contemporary poetry, his Elegies constitute an extended abstract meditation on life and death. Throughout the series, horizontal white canvases are divided rhythmically by two or three freely drawn vertical bars and punctuated at various intervals by ovoid forms. The paintings are most often composed entirely of black and white—the colors of mourning and radiance, death and life. Motherwell remarked on the entanglement of those forces as a metaphor for his understanding of the experience of being alive.

Elegy to the Spanish Republic No. 70, Robert Motherwell (American, Aberdeen, Washington 1915–1991 Provincetown, Massachusetts), Oil on canvas

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