"We have only to look at the force of one of the Opens...to feel the complexity of observation the painter requires of himself and the viewer." *
"...a subtle but firmly asserted spatial ambiguity that gives the picture a deep resonance and an aura of mystery."**
Andrea Rosen Gallery is delighted to announce a comprehensive exhibition of Robert Motherwell's seminal Open series. The gallery has an ongoing commitment to timely presentations of historical material, in this case highlighting a point in the artist's trajectory when a confluence of institutional, intellectual, and market attention brings renewed appreciation to a significant body of work. The gallery is particularly interested in creating historical exhibitions that expand the reading and understanding of an artist's work. While Motherwell's significance may have been perceived primarily through the gestural Elegies, presenting the Opens now not only allows us to compare these masterworks against the present-day focus on abstraction, but also encourages us to reconcile the breadth of Motherwell's rigor and clarity. They are undeniably fresh, beautiful, and bold.
Typically composed as single-color surfaces on which he has painted three charcoal lines, the Opens were a primary occupation for Motherwell from 1967 through the 1970s, and briefly into the 1980s. Although it has been common practice to locate Motherwell alternately within the histories of midcentury American painting and Minimalism, the Opens exemplify the cerebral, content-fueled character that sets his work apart: the fragmentary rectangles offer an intense conceptual engagement with dualities of interior and exterior, and with perceptions of nature and space.
Coinciding with the centennial of Motherwell's birth, the exhibition comes amid a groundswell of appreciation of his significance. In 2012, the Dedalus Foundation (founded by Motherwell in 1981) and Yale University Press published a major catalogue raisonné of Motherwell's work. The Art Gallery of Ontario and The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in New York have also produced remarkable studies on Motherwell in recent years, and the Opens themselves are the subject of a dedicated collection of essays and scholarly criticism published in 2010. In February of this year, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York opened an exhibition of Motherwell's monumental paintings, collages, prints, and illustrated books drawn from its holdings and those of the Dedalus Foundation.
*Mary Ann Caws
** Jack Flamm