Robert Motherwell Scrapbooks

Descriptive Summary

Title: Robert Motherwell Archive: Scrapbooks

Creator: Robert Motherwell and his studio

Date: The inclusive dates of the collection are 1946-2000, bulk dates 1947-1990.

Extent: Four linear feet of records.
Comprised of 11 boxes:
Eight (8) 10" x 5" x 15.5" boxes
One (1) 10" x 2.5" x 15.5" box
Two (2) 20.5" x 16" x 3.5" boxes

Repository: Dedalus Foundation, Inc.
254 36th Street, Suite 2-BE
Brooklyn, New York 11232

Microfilm Copy: The Museum of Modern Art
Museum Archives
11 West 53 Street
New York, NY 10019

Administrative Information

Processing Information
Processed 2004, by Eve Lambert, Dedalus Fellow, under the direction of Michelle Elligott, Museum Archivist.

The Robert Motherwell Scrapbooks consist of eight 5" document boxes, one 2.5" document box, and 2 20.5" x 16" x 3.5" boxes for a total of 4 linear feet. Containing material with inclusive dates of 1946 - 2000, the Scrapbooks document Motherwell's long artistic career. The majority of the Scrapbooks consist of exhibition invitations, brochures, catalogues, and reviews and articles by such noted art critics as John Canaday, Dore Ashton, Hilton Kramer, Peter Schjeldahl, John Russell, Clement Greenberg, Emily Genauer, and Grace Glueck. Motherwell's name is usually underlined or circled within these documents. There is an emphasis on Motherwell's transition from painting to collage-making, and other themes include Motherwell's interest in teaching and literature, his involvement with politics and activism, and his achievements and innovations as an artist. The majority of the collection centers on the middle years, from the 1970s to the early 1990s.

The Robert Motherwell Scrapbooks were originally housed in twenty-two black binders and two bound Scrapbooks. The binders contained plastic sleeves backed by acidic black paper into which documents had been slipped. Both the plastic and the black paper were hastening the deterioration of the archival material so for the purposes of preservation and accessibility the documents were removed from their original housing and placed in acid-free archival folders which were then housed in archival document boxes. The records are in good condition for the most part. Clippings have often been photocopied, in which case several versions of a single article can exist within the collection. Some clippings are glued to a backing of acidic black paper, and glue has started to show through. In a few places the original documents show signs of deterioration.

The material from the Scrapbooks have been arranged chronologically maintaining their original order, except for two Scrapbooks that appear at the end of the collection. These last two Scrapbooks were created by Motherwell himself and were maintained in their original physical format because the deterioration of the material was minimal and the careful composition of items on the page reflects Motherwell's interest in collage. Occasionally an article will appear within a Scrapbook that does not match the date range of that Scrapbook but in the interest of original order the documents have not been re-arranged.

Scrapbook Descriptions


Scrapbook I (1947 - 1959)

This Scrapbook contains a large number of exhibition brochures from the Samuel M. Kootz Gallery, where Motherwell showed exclusively from 1945 - 1958. There are also two clippings relating to Wittenborn, Inc., a fine art publishing company Motherwell worked with in the 1940s and 50s to edit Documents of Modern Art. Many clippings announce or review lectures given by Motherwell at various venues. Clippings also discuss Motherwell's influences and interest in teaching, as well as some of the sources of his drawings. Several articles focus on a mural, a curtain, and a sculpture done by Motherwell, Adolph Gottlieb, and Herbert Ferber respectively, for the B'nai Israel synagogue in Millburn, NJ, designed by architect Percival Goodman. See also Scrapbook XXIII for extensive clippings on the B'nai Israel synagogue.


Scrapbook II (1960 - 1967)

Articles in this Scrapbook show the increase in the value of Motherwell's paintings, as well as a general growth in corporate backing of art, for example by the S.C. Johnson Corporation. A small number of clippings document the conflict with New York Times art critic John Canaday, who was dismissive of the Abstract Expressionists in general and of Motherwell in particular. Several clippings come from Motherwell's exhibitions in Italy, where his work circulated from 1962 - 63. Additionally, there are many reviews of the MoMA retrospective, Robert Motherwell [MoMA Exh. #776, October 1-November 28, 1965], which also traveled to the Whitechapel Gallery in London and the Stedelijk Museum in the Netherlands. For extensive clippings and reviews of the exhibition in Whitechapel, see Scrapbook XXIV. Much of the Scrapbook is devoted to the controversy over New England Elegy, Motherwell's mural in the John F. Kennedy Federal Building in Boston, erected August 7, 1966. It was thought by many to be an abstract rendering of the moment of Kennedy's assassination. The General Services Administration commissioned this piece for $25,000, and it and was one of first instances of a federal agency commissioning work by an artist.


Scrapbook III (1968 - 1971)

This Scrapbook contains a few clippings of the memorial service held for RenŽ d'Harnoncourt, Director of The Museum of Modern Art from 1949 - 1968. There are also several articles reviewing Motherwell's 1968 exhibition of collages at The Whitney, his first exhibition of new work in six years. Many articles cover the protest against violence and repression during the National Democratic Convention in August of 1968. In response, a large group of artists (headed by Motherwell) first refused to exhibit art in Chicago for two years but decided instead to arrange a protest exhibition at the Richard Feigen Gallery in October, called the ''Richard J. Daley'' exhibition after the mayor of Chicago at the time. Richard Feigen and Claes Oldenburg organized the exhibition, and forty-seven artists, including Motherwell, displayed works. A few articles mention the growth of corporate backing in art, specifically by Xerox. There are also articles about the Art Worker's Coalition assertion that MoMA had been exercising a ''subtle form of blackmail'' by soliciting the donations of works from artists for the exhibition The New American Painting and Sculpture: The First Generation [MoMA Exh. #893, June 18-October 5, 1969]. There are many posters, flyers, and brochures from Provincetown, where Motherwell had taken up summer residence in 1953. There are also a few announcements for The Documents of Modern Art, edited by Robert Motherwell. Articles at the end of the Scrapbook focus on Motherwell's Paris exhibition, Rve et RealitŽ, in 1977.


Scrapbook IV (1972)

Many articles in this Scrapbook cover The Metropolitan Museum of Art's exhibition of Motherwell's A la Pintura, The Genesis of the Book, an unbound book that illustrated the poem A la Pintura by modern Spanish poet Rafael Alberti with twenty-one color aquatints. This was the largest to date print exhibition at The Metropolitan, and it marks Motherwell's movement away from ''action'' (in painting) to ''contemplation'' (in collages). There are also several articles on the death of Motherwell's mother, Margaret Rosener. There is one article on weaver Gloria Ross, Helen Frankenthaler's sister.


Scrapbook V (1973 - 1974)

This Scrapbook covers exhibitions at Princeton, and in Virginia, California, and Germany, as well as the MoMA exhibition, American Prints: 1913-1963 [MoMA Exh. #1082a, December 3, 1974-March 3, 1975]. There is an article noting Motherwell's incorporation of the music of the Boston Philharmonic and the poetry of Frank O'Hara into his artwork. Articles also discuss Motherwell's departure from the Marlborough Gallery. There are a number of articles on Motherwell's exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., the National Gallery's first exhibition of modern art. Many articles show that Motherwell's interest in aquatint persisted, and discuss the establishment of an etching workshop in his home in Greenwich, Connecticut. Thematically, many clippings note that at this point Motherwell can be seen returning to compositional elements addressed in the Open series, as well as to the earlier palette of the Elegy series.


Scrapbook VI (1975 - 1976)

This Scrapbook contains several advertisements for Motherwell exhibitions in New York, as well as articles pointing to Motherwell's increasing concentration on prints and collages. There is also an extensive section of articles in German. Later German articles are accompanied by a translation, a service arranged by Andre Emmerich, a gallery owner in New York and Zurich. There are also brochures for the original nine-color offset lithograph series, In Celebration, which was created by Motherwell to commemorate the completion of Stanford Law School buildings. Motherwell is referred to as a ''star'' or ''superstar'' in several articles. There are also articles on Motherwell's DŸsseldorf retrospective in September 1976, which also traveled to Stockholm and Vienna.


Scrapbook VII (1977 - 1979)

This Scrapbook contains articles on Motherwell's protest of the French government's release of suspected Palestinian terrorist, Abu Daoud. In response, Motherwell refused to attend the opening of the Georges Pompidou Center. There are also several articles concentrating on the major Motherwell exhibition in Paris: Robert Motherwell: Choix de Peintures et Collages 1941 - 1977 at the MusŽe d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, from June 21 to September 20, 1977. The exhibition contained approximately 140 - 170 paintings, and Hilton Kramer wrote that it was ''probably the largest one-man show any living American artist has ever been given in a French museum.'' [Hilton Kramer, ''An American in Paris,'' The New York Times Magazine (June 19, 1977).] This Scrapbook contains many mentions of honors and awards garnered by Motherwell, including the ''Artist of the Year'' Award from the state of Connecticut and the Gold Medal of Honor from Philadelphia's Academy of Fine Arts, which was the first time the award had been given to non-figurative artist since award's inception in 1893. There are several articles on the H.H. Arnason monograph, Robert Motherwell, which was called ''propagandistic'' by many reviewers. This Scrapbook also contains advertisements for original postcards created by Motherwell for the Artist's Postcard exhibit in New York, and articles about his commission to paint the mural in I.M. Pei's annex to the National Gallery, which opened on June 1, 1978.


Scrapbook VIII (1980 - 1982)

This Scrapbook was originally organized by year, with inserted markers separating each year. There are articles on Motherwell's inclusion in MoMA exhibitions Printed Art Since 1965 [MoMA Exh. #1287, February 13 - April 1, 1980] and The Painter and the Printer: Robert Motherwell's Graphics [MoMA Exh. #1296, October 30-December 16, 1980]. There is a large section of articles in Spanish devoted to Motherwell's work in a collection of American painting on display at the Sala Cadafe of Ambassador William Luers in El Marques, Caracas, Venezuela as part of ''Art in Embassies,'' a worldwide program founded in 1964 and promoted by the Department of State to enable ambassadors to have works of major American artists on loan in their residences. The Scrapbook also contains an article by Evan R. Firestone discussing the influence of James Joyce on the New York School of painters.


Scrapbook IX (1983)

This Scrapbook contains an Archives of American Art article on a 1950 letter from Alfred H. Barr, Jr., Director of The Museum of Modern Art, to Baldwin Smith, Chairman of the Department of Art and Archaeology at Princeton, on the subject of William Seitz's doctoral dissertation. Smith was concerned with Seitz's desire to write about the Abstract Expressionists, feeling that it was not sufficiently "historical," as it would cover only the previous twenty years. Barr assured Smith that it was a valid topic and urged him to allow Seitz to write the thesis [IX.1]. The Scrapbook also contains many articles on the Connecticut Painters 7+7+7 exhibition at the Wadsworth Atheneum where artists acted as curators. There are also many articles on the Second Annual Provincetown James Joyce Conference, with a complementary Motherwell tribute exhibition at Hawthorne Gallery. The large retrospective, Robert Motherwell, began in 1983 at the Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo and eventually traveled to Los Angeles County Museum of Art (January 10 - March 4, 1984), San Francisco MoMA (April 12 - June 3, 1984), Seattle Art Museum (June 22 - August 5, 1984), and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (December 7, 1984 - February 3, 1985). This Scrapbook contains clippings for only the Albright-Knox Gallery venue.


Scrapbook X (January - May 1984)

This Scrapbook contains clippings on Robert Motherwell at Los Angeles County Museum of Art and San Francisco MoMA. There are also articles on Motherwell's participation in a benefit for the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign. Additionally, there are advertisements for the reissued Motherwell monograph by H. H. Arnason, with additions by Dore Ashton and Barbaralee Diamonstein, and a new introduction by Motherwell.


Scrapbook XI (June - December 1984)

This Scrapbook contains clippings on Robert Motherwell at the Seattle Art Museum and at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. There are also several clippings on Motherwell's wine labels in the Mouton Rothschild: Paintings for the Labels exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in 1985. The Scrapbook also contains advertisements for published works The Prints of Robert Motherwell and A Catalogue Raisonne 1943 - 1984.


Scrapbook XII (1985)

This Scrapbook contains clippings on Robert Motherwell at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. There is also the transcript for Motherwell's commencement speech for Brown University, and articles on Motherwell's honorary degrees from The New School and Hunter College, as well as his Edward MacDowell Medal for outstanding lifetime achievement in art. Several articles concentrate on the vandalism of Dublin 1916 Black and Tan and the destruction of Frankenthaler's Capri in Albany. There are many articles on the demolition of Motherwell's 1946 East Hampton Quonset hut, designed by Pierre Chareau. A large portion of the Scrapbook is devoted to articles about Silvermine '85, a corporate collection of art shown at several local galleries in Connecticut. Articles also document Motherwell's involvement with the Association of Artists Against Apartheid exhibitions put on by United Nations for a free and democratic government in South Africa.


Scrapbook XIII (1986 - 1987)

This Scrapbook includes articles and advertisements on Motherwell's new work showcased at Knoedler Gallery, and mentions his emphasis on the color black. Articles cover Motherwell's visual tribute to composer Arthur Berger in an exhibit in Cape Cod. There are many reviews of exhibitions throughout Spain, as well as Renate Ponsold's exhibition in Madrid. Additionally, there are articles on Motherwell being awarded the Medalla d'Oro de Bellas Artes by the King of Spain, as well as his election to American Academy of Arts and Letters, replacing Georgia O'Keeffe. A few articles describe Motherwell's support for the creation of Omnivex, an electronic system that allowed images of artwork to be viewed through the computer. There are articles on the death of Reuben Nakian in December of 1987.


Scrapbook XIV (1987)

This Scrapbook contains clippings on Robert Motherwell at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. There are clippings on the death of Andy Warhol on February 22. Articles and petitions document the pleas of artists to halt restoration on Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel and DaVinci's Last Supper, and for the restorers to review ''all options available.'' A small number of clippings announce an exhibit in the Galer’a Juana Mord— in Madrid in March and April. There are advertisements, announcements, and articles for the Motherwell Film Festival in Greenwich, in conjunction with the exhibit Robert Motherwell: The Collaged Image at the Hurlbutt Gallery in the Spring.


Scrapbook XV (1987 - 1988)

This Scrapbook contains many brochures and announcements for Art Against AIDS, an unprecedented effort by artists and galleries to support AIDS research through a citywide series of sales benefiting American Foundation for AIDS Research in New York. There is an article for the Harvard Society Graduate Newsletter discussing Motherwell's philosophical influences with emphasis on French Symbolism. There are clippings announcing Motherwell's Wallace Award from the American-Scottish Foundation. Several clippings mention the MoMA exhibition Gifts of Works on Paper by Robert Motherwell [MoMA Exh. #1471, December 12, 1987-February 23, 1988]. There is one article on the death of Baron Philippe de Rothschild, the maker of Ch‰teau Mouton Wine. Articles announce the publication of a new edition of Joyce's Ulysses accompanied by forty etchings by Motherwell called the Dedalus Sketchbooks. Many articles discuss Ponsold's retrospective at the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art.


Scrapbook XVI (1989)

This Scrapbook contains an advertisement for the second edition of the Motherwell edited Dada Painters and Poets with a forward by Jack Flam. There are many articles on Motherwell's support for AndrŽs Serrano and Robert Mapplethorpe during the revocation of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. In response to winning the National Medal of Arts, Motherwell offered to donate the $10,000 prize money to the AIDS arts exhibition Witnesses: Against Our Vanishing at Artists Space gallery to replace the revoked NEA grant. The NEA decision to withhold funding was later reversed. There is an article on Motherwell's exhibition of musical collages at the Montclair Museum based on Baudelaire's theory of correspondence between different levels of creativity. There are also clippings from Motherwell's first Italian retrospective since 1965, which was held at the Padiglione d'arte contemporanea in Milan and consisted of forty years worth of collages and paintings, including major pieces from MoMA.


Scrapbook XVII (1990)

This Scrapbook includes a large number of advertisements for galleries featuring works by Motherwell. There are several articles on Motherwell’s first exhibition in Paris since 1977, Peintures et collages: 1969 – 1990 at Art Curial in the Fall of 1990. There are articles describing Motherwell’s participation in the movement to elect Democrat Harvey Gannt, who was running against Jesse Helms, the chief opponent of the NEA. There are articles on Motherwell’s exhibition at Long Point Gallery in Provincetown, the institution’s first one-person show.


Scrapbook XVIII (1991)

This Scrapbook covers Motherwell’s death on July 16, 1991. The majority of this Scrapbook is composed of obituaries. One article discusses the re-airing of a PBS documentary on Motherwell as part of the “American Masters” series, which was filmed between 1985 – 89. There is documentation of the formation of Dedalus Foundation, with Renate Ponsold as Chairman, Joan Banach as Director, and Richard Rubin as the first President.


Scrapbook XIX (1992)

This Scrapbook contains articles on the exhibition Black Mountain College: Scratching the Surface at the Station Gallery in New York in the Spring. There are extensive amounts of clipped advertisements for galleries featuring Motherwell’s work. Folder XIX.4 is made up of undated items, but contains documents from the early 1980s to the early 1990s.


Scrapbook XX (1993 – 2001)

This Scrapbook begins with many lists of articles by or about Motherwell, prepared by Joan Banach from 1984 – 1989. There are many articles and letters about the Dedalus Foundation’s gift-purchase arrangement with the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth for seventeen Motherwell pieces. There are reviews of a posthumous exhibit at Knoedler & Company, many articles comment on the emphasis on visceral feeling.


Scrapbook XXI (1997 – 2001)

This Scrapbook includes mostly articles on the activities of foundations promoting art and artists. There are articles on the Lannan Foundation’s gift of more than 190 artworks to Chicago Art Museums. There are reviews of a Motherwell exhibition in Barcelona, curated by Dore Ashton for the Tàpies Foundation in 1997. There is an article about the Warhol Foundation.


Scrapbook XXII (n.d.)

This Scrapbook is very small, with very little substantive information on Motherwell. Most of the articles are duplicated elsewhere in the collection and many consist of only small mentions of exhibitions. Folder XXII.3 contains articles on and mentions of Helen Frankenthaler and Renate Ponsold and all articles in this folder are unrelated to Motherwell .


Scrapbook XXIII (1950s)

This Scrapbook has been maintained in its original format to preserve Motherwell’s original composition of articles. Several articles focus on a mural, a curtain, and a sculpture done by Motherwell, Adolph Gottlieb, and Herbert Ferber respectively, for the B’nai Israel synagogue in Millburn, NJ, designed by architect Percival Goodman.


Scrapbook XXIV (1966 London Exhibition)

This Scrapbook has been maintained in its original format to preserve Motherwell’s original composition of articles. This Scrapbook covers the Robert Motherwell retrospective as shown in the Whitechapel Gallery in London.