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Daily Archives: January 15, 2014

Effort and Effortlessness in Motherwell’s Reconciliation Elegy

* Mary Camille Beckman *

I had already loved Robert Motherwell’s painting Reconciliation Elegy (1978)—had already claimed it as my favorite painting—for years before I tried to account for that love, to support that claim. On a recent trip to Washington D.C., I brought my partner to the modern wing of the National Gallery, where the painting hangs, and as he looked at the vast canvas high on a far marble wall, he asked me, as if—of course, no problem—I’d know the answer to his question, “What do you like about it?”