87. “A Robert Motherwell painting”

The episode:The Mole People,” ep. 803

The riff: Quipped by Crow as our heroes wander the exceedingly dark tunnels of the mole people and spot the tiniest bit of light up ahead.

The explanation: Robert Motherwell was an American artist and one of the initial founders of the abstract expressionism movement. In particular, he was known for a series called “Elegy to the Spanish Republic” which focused on the fallout of the Spanish Civil War. Somehow, he achieved this through the use of over 100 paintings of big, black ovals. Yes, that’s right. Nothing but huge, black ovals. Observe below. Don’t ask me to explain.

Novelty factor: Completely new to me, and equally inscrutable. And people wonder why the general public is unable to embrace fine art on some level. I’m blaming this entirely on Robert Motherwell, so there.

THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.

THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.

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5 thoughts on “87. “A Robert Motherwell painting”

  1. Perhaps it’s modern and contemporary art you don’t like. Fine art is an awfully big category to completely dismiss. I’m sure there are some paintings out there in the world that make you swoon inside… even just a little bit.

    • Just kidding, Leslie. I’m an entertainment reporter and I cover the arts as part of the job. I write about plenty of contemporary artists, although I can’t pretend to understand Motherwell’s particular interest in ovals.

      • Aha. That’s good to hear. I’m not a fan either– hadn’t even heard of Motherwell until this post. I do enjoy quite a bit of modern art, but not so much contemporary. It all starts to go to hell in the 50s. I have trouble convincing others to get into some of the modern art I adore, like Mark Rothko, Kandinsky, and Mondrian.

  2. The black ovals are actually representing castrated bull testicles. I landed on this page as I was looking for a certain image for a Motherwell research paper that I’m working on. The Abstract Expressionists seemed a bit off-kilter, but they knew what they were doing. Motherwell was highly educated (3 Ivy League University degrees -his Ph.D. from Harvard). The background to this painting is very Freudian, dealing heavily with the theory of Eros and Thanatos.

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