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Robert Motherwell Elegy To The Spanish Republic 20

Robert Motherwell 

Elegy to the Spanish Republic

Lévy Gorvy New York
November 4 2015 – January 9 2016

Dominique Lévy is pleased to present Robert Motherwell: Elegy to the Spanish Republic, the first gallery exhibition in over twenty years to offer a fresh survey of the monumental series that marked a pivotal moment in the history of modern art. Begun in 1948, Motherwell’s Elegies were intended as public laments, deeply political in their condemnation of the violence of the Spanish Civil War and the isolationist fascism of General Francisco Franco. The artist also described them as “general metaphors of the contrast between life and death, and their interrelation.” Returning again and again to this central preoccupation of his oeuvre over the course of decades, Motherwell would ultimately create more than 250 paintings and works on paper exploring the subject. The last work in the series, titled Mourning Elegy, was completed only months before his death in 1991. In their implicit references to politics, psychology, literature, and poetry, the Elegies constructed a bridge between Surrealism and the new style of painting emerging at the same time: Abstract Expressionism.

Robert Motherwell: Elegy to the Spanish Republic celebrates the centenary of the artist’s birth and fills Dominique Lévy Gallery with eighteen works spanning the years 1954-1989. These range from such small-scale studies as Mural Sketch (Study for Elegy to the Spanish Republic 100) and Study for State II “Elegy No. 100,” both of which were made in advance of one of the artist’s largest paintings, to such monumental canvases as Elegy for the Spanish Republic XXXV (Elegy to the Spanish Republic No. 35), which measures over six by eight feet. Works on view include loans from major museums, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C.

In conjunction with Robert Motherwell: Elegy to the Spanish Republic, Dominique Lévy has published a fully illustrated catalogue, featuring a text by David Anfam, noted scholar of Abstract Expressionism, and an essay by poet and art critic John Yau. This book explores the inextricable links between poetry, politics, writing, and painting that are revealed in the history of the Elegies. It includes Harold Rosenberg’s “A Bird for Every Bird”; Frederico García Lorca’s “Llanto por Ignacio Sánchez Mejías”; notes and writings by Robert Motherwell on the Spanish Civil War and the Elegies; and rare archival material.

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