About This Artwork

Robert Motherwell (American, 1915-1991)
written by Rafael Alberti (Spanish, 1902-1999) and translated by Ben Belitt (American. 1911-2003)
printed by Donn Steward (American, 1921-1986); typography by Juda Rosenberg and Esther Pullman
published by Universal Limited Art Editions (American, founded 1955)

Red 1-3, from A la pintura, 1971, published 1972

Color aquatint and lift-ground aquatint from two copper plates, with letterpress, on white wove paper
140 x 254 mm (image/plate); 647 x 965 mm (sheet)

U.L.A.E. Collection acquired through a challenge grant of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Dittmer; restricted gift of supporters of the Department of Prints and Drawings; Centennial Endowment; Margaret Fisher Endowment Fund, 1982.862.13

According to John McKendry, former curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, if nothing else survived of Robert Motherwell’s oeuvre save his A la Pintura, he “would still be seen as a major artist of the twentieth century.” Motherwell’s book of 24 unbound pages, with 21 mixed intaglio prints, “illuminates the poetry” of Raphael Alberti. After Robert Motherwell discovered Ben Belitt’s translation of Raphael Alberti’s A la Pintura (On Painting), Motherwell recalled, “I had found the text for a livre d’artiste, a text whose every line set into motion my innermost painterly feelings. . . . This poetry is made for painters, and this livre was made for the poetry. I meant the two to be wedded, as in a medieval psalter, but with my own sense of the modern.” Just as Motherwell was inspired by poetry, Alberti found constant source material in the visual arts. A la Pintura was his homage to the collection of master paintings in the Prado Museum in Madrid and was dedicated to his friend and fellow Spaniard Pablo Picasso.

— Exhibition label, The Artist and the Poet, February 1–June 2, 2013, Galleries 124–127.

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