- Figure in Black (Girl with Stripes)
- Not on view
- 23 7⁄8 x 19 3⁄4 in. (60.7 x 50.2 cm.)
- upper right in oil: R. M (triangle) 7 back center in oil: R Motherwell/47 back upper center in black paint: "Girl/with/Stripes" back right in white pencil: 600.MAD (written sideways) back upper right in pencil: #60 (written at an angle and upside-down) frame verso right runner near bottom in black ink: 6902 (written sideways)
- © 1994 Dedalus Foundation, Inc.
- Credit Line
- Gift of the Dedalus Foundation and museum purchase
- Mediums Description
- oil and paper on fiberboard
- Figure female
- Object Number
Modern Masters: Midcentury Abstraction from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2008
Robert Motherwell experimented with abstract figure painting during the 1940s, creating images that resembled primitive cave drawings. Here, the textured background of chalky white and yellow ocher sets off the thick black brushstrokes. Motherwell was inspired by the psychologist Carl Jung, who wrote that creativity was an instinctive drive that comes from deep within our unconscious. Figure in Black is an abstract painting of colors and lines, but it also suggests deep-seated symbols that we do not fully understand. Motherwell devoted most of his life to working in limited color and especially enjoyed working with the “inexhaustible” mysteries of black (1977 interview by Barbaralee Diamonstein, in Arnason, Robert Motherwell, 1982).
“Perhaps I feel happiest when, during the creative process, I simply let work ‘pour out.’” Motherwell, interview by Barbaralee Diamonstein, 1977, in Arnason, Robert Motherwell, 1982