This film profiles American artist Robert Motherwell (1915-1991) in the context of Modernism and reviews the past fifty years of his creative life. It presents archival footage, photographs, and film clips in a collage, rather than chronological, format.
The film discusses the origins of Abstract Expressionism, its links with Surrealism, and its struggle for recognition. Included are scenes of artists Jackson Pollock, Hans Hofmann, Joseph Cornell, Helen Frankenthaler, Mark Rothko, David Smith, Roberto Matta, and Larry Rivers. Interviews with art critics and historians, including Clement Greenberg, William Rubin, Henry Geldzahler, and Jack Flam, and gallery owner Sidney Janis, are featured; with scenes from a major retrospective of Motherwell’s work at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City.