|"In Black and White" - Robert Motherwell|
About the Artist - Robert Motherwell
"A few years ago I was standing next to one of my huge black and white pictures (In Black an White Nos. 2 - 183cm X 408cm. 1975) in a museum gallery, and a middle aged man approached me and asked what the picture was about, what it "meant".
Because we happened to be standing in front of the actual painting, I was able to look at it directly, instead of an after image inside my head. I realised that the picture had been painted over several times and radically changed, in shape balances and weights. At one time it was too black, at one time the rhythm of it was too regular, at one time there was not enough variation in the geometry of the shapes. I realised there were about 10,000 brush strokes in it and that each brush stroke is a decision. It is not a decision of aesthetics - will it look more beautiful? - but a decision that concerns one's inner I: is it getting too heavy or too light? It has to do with one's sense of sensuality: the surface is getting too coarse, or is it not fluid enough? It has to do with one's sense of life: is it airy enough or is it leaden? It has to do with one's own sense of weights. I happen to be a heavy, awkward, clumsy man, and if something gets too airy, even though I admire it very much, it doesn't feel like myself, my I.
In the end I realised that whatever "meaning" that the picture has is just the accumulated "meaning" of ten thousand brush strokes, each one being decided as it was painted. In that sense to ask "what does this painting mean?" is essentially unanswerable, except as the accumulation of hundreds of decisions with the brush. On a single day, or during a few hours, I might be in a very particular state, and make something much lighter, much heavier, much smaller, much bigger than I normally would. But when you steadily work at something over a period of time. your whole being must emerge.
In a sense, all of my pictures are slices cut out of a continuum whose duration is my whole life, and hopefully will continue to the day I die."