Chance and sensibility

I think I was unfair to Motherwell in a previous post, in the sense that a reader might take the wrong impression. Of course it is obvious that Motherwell’s drawings are his, the products of a sensibility and an intelligence. They could never be mistaken for accidents.

Robert Motherwell, from the "Lyric Suite" 1965

But it’s important to realize that the feeling that the drawing could be an accident, that it is in fact partly an accident, is what takes it forward in history, out of its moment. In fact, the arbitrary or accidental is the productive element in work like this. What bothers me is that after so many moments of achieved individuality, of  inspired judgment and demonstrated facility, the feeling I get is of overall sameness, that he could make another 500 pictures and it wouldn’t make a difference to the work or to me. From this point starts an artist like Josh Smith. At this point the formal conceptualism of Richter becomes authoritative.

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One Response to Chance and sensibility

  1. Quentin says:


    I was looking for Motherwell’s works and found your website. I skimmed through this article and it reminded me of this exhibition, unfortunately in Geneva:

    If you can read French, I can only recommend you the book, as it is about the accidents of the sculptor (or the painter, in our case) that define a piece of art.

    Here is my tumblr, if you want to see some paintings:


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