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Construction Drawing

Watercolor, gouache, and pencil on paper
28 3/4 x 23 inches
1945
Now on view: AC Hotel, Spartanburg, South Carolina

As exhibited in Jo Sandman / Traces, 2022, Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, Asheville, North Carolina

Invited to teach painting and criticism at Black Mountain College’s 1945 and 1951 summer sessions, Robert Motherwell espoused an emotive and intuitive approach that contradicted Josef Albers’ rigid formalism. In Construction Drawing, the Harvard-trained artist balances the blank, negative space with expressive brushwork reminiscent of “automatism”—the Surrealist exercise of spontaneous, involuntary drawing stemming from the subconscious. Like his fellow members of the famed mid-century New York circle of painters—Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, and others—Motherwell helped shape the theory and practice of Abstract Expressionism. He later established the Dedalus Foundation to support public understanding and appreciation of the principles of modern art.