By Edward Lucie-Smith
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He had his first one-man exhibition at the Art of This Century Gallery in 1944. As the abstract expressionist movement got under way, the range of Motherwell's activities continued to expand. He was co-editor of the influential but short-lived magazine Possibilities 111 1947—8, and m 1948 founded an art school with three other important painters, William Baziotes, Barnett Newman, and Mark Rothko. In 19 s 1 he published an anthology of the work of the dada painters and poets which was one oi the earliest signs oi the arrival of neo-dada\ so tar as it WILLIAM BAZIOTES CottgO I954 I ROBERT 8 MOTHERWELL Elegy to the Spanish Republic no.
A few rectangles of space are placed on a coloured ground. Their edges are not defined, and their spatial position is therefore ambiguous. They float towards us, or away, in a shallow space of the kind that we also find in Pollock - it The other ///. 20 abstract derives, ultimately, from the spatial experiments of the cubists. In Rothko's paintings the colour relationships, as they interact within the rectangle and within this space, set up a gentle rhythmic pulsation. The painting becomes both a focus for the spectator's meditations and a screen before a mystery.
De Kooning's Women are the forerunners of Warhol's Marilyns. The enormous III. 27 ///. 25 success scored by abstract expressionism was have important consequences for the arts on both sides of the to Atlantic. Pollock's legend grew with tremendous rapidity in the years between the first European showing of his work in 1948 and his death in a car crash in 1956. Some of the effects of this success were all too predictable. An attempt was made to set up abstract expressionism as the only conceivable kind of art.