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Before the Day

Photo: Spike Mafford / Zocalo Studios. Courtesy of the Friday Foundation

Before the Day

1972

Robert Motherwell

American, 1915-1991

Before the Day aligns with Motherwell’s series of ‘Open’ paintings first began in 1967. A departure from his preceding Elegies to the Spanish Republic, Motherwell’s ‘Open’ works explore permutations of line and color, each characterized by sparse visual elements and rectangular planes. Inspired by a chance encounter in the studio—Motherwell observed a recent painting leaning against a larger canvas in an agreeable way—the compositions create the suggestion of a window, or opening.
Charcoal and acrylic on canvas
72 1/2 × 96 5/8 in. (184.1 × 245.3 cm)
Gift of the Friday Foundation in honor of Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis
2021.1.1
Provenance: The artist; acquired from the above, via Lawrence Rubin Gallery, New York, by Jane and Richard E. Lang, Seattle, 1972; Friday Foundation, Seattle, 2018; Seattle Art Museum, 2021
Photo: Spike Mafford / Zocalo Studios. Courtesy of the Friday Foundation
location
Now on view at the Seattle Art Museum

Resources

Exhibition HistoryNew York, New York, Lawrence Rubin Gallery, Robert Motherwell, Oct. 21 - Nov. 8, 1972. Cat. no. 7.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, American Art: Third Quarter Century, Aug. 22 - Oct. 14, Cat. no. 43, pp. 19, 100, reproduced.

Düsseldorf, Germany, Städtische Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Robert Motherwell, Sept. 3 - Oct. 10, 1976 (Stockholm, Sweden, Stockholm Galleriet Kulturhuset, Nov. 12, 1976 - Jan. 9, 1977; Vienna, Austria, Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts, Mar. 8 - Apr. 11, 1977). Cat. no. 40, reproduced p. 109.

Paris, France, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Robert Motherwell: Choix de peintures et de collages, 1941–1977, June 21 - Sept. 20, 1977. No cat. no., reproduced.

Edinburgh, Scotland, Royal Scottish Academy, Robert Motherwell: Paintings and Collages, 1941–1977, Oct. 15 - Nov. 27, 1977.

Seattle, Washington, Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Art in America: Washington Collections—An American Tradition: Abstraction, Dec. 4, 1981 - Jan. 17, 1982.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, The Richard and Jane Lang Collection, Feb. 2 - April 1, 1984. Cat. no. 34, reproduced p. 48, reproduced.

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