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Robert Motherwell’s New Paintings

IN 1959, AT THE TIME of a large retrospective of Miró’s paintings, Robert Motherwell singled out a picture’ from 1925, characterizing it as “simply a blue-brushed color plane, punctured in the upper left corner by a hole the roundness of a pencil and in the lower right corner his tiny signature and the year.” And then he added “The picture stands.” (Art News, LVIII , May 1959.) The picture Motherwell described is part of a series of paintings Miró executed in the mid-twenties which, explored the capacity of line to function as a sign of space, rather than remaining the boundary of an object which occupies space. Miró’s sign in these pictures is a hairline cross: a single horizontal around which the uneven blue wash coalesces only slightly; and a vertical which bisects it. In these pictures one feels Miró’s formal intelligence at work, straining to gather into a pair of intersected lines

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