Robert Motherwell (1915-91) came to abstraction not through painting, but through philosophy, poetry and art history. While studying at Stanford, he was introduced to modernism and symbolism; Mallarme's dictum, "To paint, not the thing, but the effect it provides," would prove essential in Motherwell's work. Elegy to the Spanish Republic is perhaps the most literal example of this influence. Begun in 1948, the series, comprising some 150 canvases, was the artist's "funeral song for something once cared about" in abstract pictorial form.
Exploring the inextricable links between poetry, politics, writing and painting revealed in the history of the series, this volume includes Harold Rosenberg's "A Bird for Every Bird," Federico Garcia Lorca's "Llanto por Ignacio Sanchez Mejias," notes and writings by Motherwell on the Spanish Civil War, scholarly essays and rare archival material.