The estate of Robert Motherwell, the fabled Abstract Expressionist painter, has landed not with a mega-gallery, but with Kasmin, which has just two spaces, both of them in New York.
It’s an unusual arrangement, given that many of Motherwell’s colleagues are represented by some of the world’s biggest galleries, with locations spread across the globe. The Willem de Kooning estate has ties to Pace, for example, and the Joan Mitchell estate works with David Zwirner.
But, compared to those artists, Motherwell’s market has historically been much more modest, with his paintings selling in the low millions. (Pace said it sold a work by him for $6.5 million at Art Basel’s first Paris fair earlier this month.) By contrast, de Kooning’s auction record stands at $68.9 million.
It’s one of several major estates that Kasmin currently represents, alongside ones for 20th-century giants like Stuart Davis, Dorothea Tanning, Lee Krasner, and James Rosenquist.
Motherwell, who died in 1991, is revered for his paintings from the postwar era, in particular his “Elegy to the Spanish Republic” series, which features moody swaths of black that he had intended as a “lamentation or funeral song” after the Spanish Civil War.
There will be a new focus on his works on paper soon, thanks to a Menil Drawing Institute show in Houston, Texas, that will spotlight his drawings. That show will open in November, around the same time that a catalogue raisonné of his drawings is released.
Kasmin has previously done shows with the Dedalus Foundation, the organization that oversees all things Motherwell. There have been five such shows since 2015 alone. But the new representation is exclusive and global, which means that no other galleries will be able to say that the artist is on their roster.
In a statement, Eric Gleason, a senior director at Kasmin, said, “Kasmin’s longstanding relationship with the Dedalus Foundation has been one of the most rewarding in the gallery’s history. Robert Motherwell is an unequivocal titan in the landscape of 20th century American art, and to be further entrusted with the stewardship of his legacy is an immeasurable honor.”