Throughout his career Motherwell was drawn to automatism. However, unlike the Surrealists who believed art should be free of any conscious control, Motherwell sought to create a balance between automatism and formal beauty. Splashing, dropping, pouring, smudging, and doodling were all automatic elements of his technique and allowed him to find meaning within what emerged through color and paint. ‘The function of art, he wrote, is to express reality as felt. In saying this we must remember that ideas modify feelings… by feeling is meant the response of the “body-and mind” as a whole to the events of reality.’ The Elegy to the Spanish Republic series, was, according to Motherwell, not only about the Spanish civil war, but also a universal lament, a somber reflection on people struggling everywhere to gain freedom and independence.
Literature: Siri Engberg and Joan Banach 'Robert Motherwell: The Complete Prints 1940-1991. Catalogue Raisonne', Walker Art Center and Hudson Hills Press, New York, 2003 (illustrated pl. 272)