Robert Motherwell, Abstraction, and Philosophy: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Robert Motherwell, Abstraction, and Philosophy

1st Edition

By Robert Hobbs


122 pages

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Hardback: 9780367210441
pub: 2020-07-06
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Employing an interdisciplinary approach, this book breaks new ground by considering how Robert Motherwell’s abstract expressionist art is indebted to Alfred North Whitehead’s highly original process metaphysics.

Motherwell first encountered Whitehead and his work as a philosophy graduate student at Harvard University, and he continued to espouse Whitehead’s processist theories as germane to his art throughout his life. This book examines how Whitehead’s process philosophy—inspired by quantum theory and focusing on the ongoing ingenuity of dynamic forces of energy rather than traditional views of inert substances—set the stage for Motherwell’s future art.

This book will be of interest to scholars in twentieth-century modern art, philosophy of art and aesthetics, and art history.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Robert Motherwell, Harvard, and Alfred North Whitehead

3. Motherwell’s Whitehead: The Felt Quality of Reality

4. Surrealism’s Psychic Automatism, Motherwell’s Plastic Automatism, and Whitehead’s Process

5. Motherwell’s Collage Aesthetic

6. Whitehead’s Process and Susanne K. Langer’s Symbol

7. Conclusion: Material Means, Immaterial Results

Appendix A: Metaphors as Whiteheadian Prehensive Tools

Appendix B: Intimacy and Ideology: Stéphane Mallarmé’s Materiality and Louis Althusser’s Aboutness

Appendix C: Dore Ashton: The Arabesque

About the Author

Robert Hobbs has served as associate professor at Cornell University and long-term visiting professor at Yale University; he has also held the Thalhimer Endowed Chair of American Art at Virginia Commonwealth University.

About the Series

Routledge Focus on Art History and Visual Studies

Routledge Focus on Art History and Visual Studies presents short-form books on varied topics within the fields of art history and visual studies.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / Criticism & Theory
ART / History / General
ART / American / General
ART / History / Contemporary (1945-)
ART / Individual Artists / General
ART / Individual Artists / Monographs
ART / Techniques / Painting
PHILOSOPHY / Aesthetics
PHILOSOPHY / Metaphysics