Dunkleman Gallery, Toronto
Sotheby Parke Bernet Inc., New York, May 18, 1978, lot 209
Marisa del Re Gallery, New York
Sotheby Parke Bernet Inc., New York, November 9, 1983, lot 76
Private Collection, Chicago
Sotheby's, New York, May 15, 2008, lot 162
Acquired by the present owner from the above sale
New York, Marlborough-Gerson Gallery, Robert Motherwell 'Open' Series 1967-1969, May – June 1969
Rome, Marlborough Galleria, Robert Motherwell, October – November 1969
Boston, Harcus Karkow Gallery, Robert Motherwell, May - June 1980
New York, Marisa del Re Gallery, Ten American Abstract Masters, May 1981
Washington, D.C., B.R. Kornblatt Gallery, Eleven Paintings and Two Sculptures from the Sixties, November - December 1981
Stamford Museum & Nature Center, Abstract Expressionism Lives!, September – November 1982
Chicago, Museum of Modern Art, "Three Decades" The Oliver-Hoffman Collection, December 17, 1988 - February 5, 1989
Robert Motherwell, "Robert Motherwell," Flash Art 70/71, January - February 1977, pp. 48-49, illustrated
Kathie Beals,"Abstract Expressionism Still Lives," Gannett Westchester Newspapers, October 1982, p. 1
Russell Jinishian,"Not 'Pretty' Nor Recognizable, but Strong, Personal, Alive!" Sunday Post, October 1982, p. 9.
Susan Kurtzman,"Name Artists in Stamford Show, Abstract Art in Stamford," Fairpress, October 1982, p. 5
Academically trained in rhetoric, Motherwell was the most articulate of his fellow Abstract Expressionists, and he was often the voice for the entire movement, communicating artistic theories through theoretical writing. The lucidity of his prose is mirrored in his artistic oeuvre, which is characterized by his preference for large canvases primed with uniform, matte color. His unbroken surfaces and expansive picture planes subsume the viewer with their consistency and seductive saturation. He famously asserted once that "the aesthetic is the sine qua non for art: if a work is not aesthetic, it is not art by definition. But in this stage of the creative process, the strictly aesthetic...ceases to be the chief end in view...it is the creation of an object for sensing that is the artist's task." (Robert Motherwell from "Beyond Aesthetic," Design, April 1946 as found in Exh. Cat., New York, Museum of Modern Art, Motherwell, New York, 1965, p. 37). Through pure abstraction, Motherwell would suggest or evoke feeling – he did not believe that things needed to be described in order to successfully communicate with an audience.
Open #29 in Crimson with Charcoal Line, executed in 1969, is representative of the artist's desire to at once engage and disable rational thought on the part of the viewer. The canvas's vermillion surface has blue undertones, like the color of red lipstick so popular with mid-century starlets. Velvety, with minor variations in application, the composition is almost hypnotic in its self-same immensity. A single charcoal line, hinged twice into an asymmetrical, U-shape, is drawn with a draftsman's accuracy. Like the first iteration of an architect's plan, Open #29 in Crimson with Charcoal Line is a visual reminder of just how elegant mathematical precision can be.
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