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Night Music Opus #21

32 1/2 x 25 1/2 in. (82.6 x 64.8 cm)

Robert Motherwell
United States (Aberdeen, WA, 1915 - 1991, Provincetown, MA)

Object Type: Painting
Medium and Support: Acrylic and rice paper on canvas
Credit Line: Marion Stratton Gould Fund
Accession Number: 2001.3
Link to this object
Location: Not currently on view

Collages hang on refrigerator doors and the walls of museums. Tearing and cutting paper, positioning and repositioning the pieces, and layering them on top of each other until they create a satisfying composition—these are practices that preschoolers and the most sophisticated artists share.

Artist Robert Motherwell worked in collage in preparation for some of his larger paintings, and he also created collages that were finished works of art themselves, such as his Night Music series. About the colors, one writer described “the ochre and the black of ancient cave paintings, charred by fire, darkened by age; and there are earth colors, of clay and soil. And there are the lighter, fragile eggshell colors of day. These are all offered up, in the bands and layers of their forms, whether perfect in their angles, or incomplete, ragged.”

[Label text from It Came From the Vault exhibition, 2013]

Much of the art of the twentieth century challenges the viewer to leave the comfort of recognizable subject matter and confront more directly color, form and expressive technique. As an example, this collage by Robert Motherwell is representative of his nearly lifelong effort to expand the conventional boundaries of painting. Motherwell, who gave voice to the aesthetics and philosophies of the New York City -based Abstract Expressionists, created works imbued with tension and paradox. For him and his fellow painters (among them Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko), the canvas presented a surface on which to record gesture and emotion, liberated from the need to record an objective reality.

[Gallery label text]

Artist's signature, upper right: RM 89

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It Came from the Vault exhibition catalogue Entry for this artwork in the It Came from the Vault exhibition catalogue. The exhibition ran from March 17-June 9, 2013

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