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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Untitled (Beside the Sea)

Photo: Susan Cole

Untitled (Beside the Sea)


Robert Motherwell

American, 1915-1991

Throughout his long career as an abstract expressionist, Motherwell held the calligraphic stroke in fine regard. He made his "Beside the Sea" series in Provincetown, Massachusetts, a village on the tip of Cape Cod. Each work incorporates a horizontal brushstroke as a grounding line from which a curving spurt of paint seems to arise spontaneously. Motherwell wanted to evoke "a column of water shooting up from the sea or dashing against a sea wall." For this ritualistic imitation of nature's force, he had to use paper strong enough to resist the powerful blow that made the painted spray.
Oil on paper
29 x 23 in. (73.66 x 58.42 cm)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Liberman
Photo: Susan Cole
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistorySeattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Collection Highlights: 1945 To The Present, Sept. 12, 1996-June 1, 1997.
Published ReferencesArnason, H.H. "Robert Motherwell." New York: Harry N. Abrams Inc., 1977; n.p., reproduced fig. 147.

Arnason, H.H. and Dore Ashton. "Robert Motherwell." Rev. ed. New York: Harry N. Abrams Inc., 1982; p. 149, reproduced fig. 184.

Seattle Art Museum acknowledges that we are on the traditional homelands of the Duwamish and the customary territories of the Suquamish and Muckleshoot Peoples. As a cultural and educational institution, we honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future. We also acknowledge the urban Native peoples from many Nations who call Seattle their home.

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