Work of Art: Dance
Acrylic on canvas
84 1/4 x 126 1/8 in. (214.0 x 320.4 cm)
Purchased with funds from the North Carolina State Art Society (Robert F. Phifer Bequest) and Arthur Leroy and Lila Fisher Caldwell, by exchange, and Gift of the Dedalus Foundation, Inc., 1998
Art © Dedalus Foundation, Inc./Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

The most lyrical and sophisticated of the abstract expressionist painters, Robert Motherwell understood abstract art as a "form of mysticism," a means by which the imagination might apprehend the unseen and universal. Painted toward the end of Motherwell's long career, Dance is all ecstatic energy. The stark inkblot forms relate to the artist's lifelong interest in automatic drawing, a central Surrealist technique of surrendering creative control of one's pen or brush to the subconscious. In Dance, the forms seem both spontaneous and curiously deliberate. Motherwell obviously delights in this ambiguity, encouraging the viewer to derive meanings which can be multiple and even contradictory.

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