I recently discovered Salt Lake City artist, Holly Addi, and it brought me back to when I first encountered the work of Robert Motherwell as a young artist. Robert Motherwell (January 24, 1915 – July 16, 1991) was an American painter, printmaker, and editor. He was one of the youngest of the New York School which also included Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Willem De Kooning.

When I was about 15 years old, one of the first art books I purchased was Robert Motherwell by noted art historian H.H. Aranson (with an introduction by author and critic Dore Ashton). I ordered it out of a catalog from a publishing house in New York. I had never heard of Motherwell, but I was drawn to the images and likewise, his name intrigued me. So I filled out the order form, gathered my allowance and sent off my money order. This is obviously long before the internet!

Robert Motherwell, H.H. Aranson (with an Introduction by Dore Ashton)
Robert Motherwell, H.H. Aranson (with an Introduction by Dore Ashton)

“Art is much less important than life, but what a poor life without it.”

Robert Motherwell

A couple of weeks later, the book arrived and it changed my life as a young artist. I was immediately drawn to Motherwell’s fearlessness. I was amazed at how his brushstrokes looked like mistakes but as I came to learn were very deliberate.

Robert Motherwell painting
Robert Motherwell. Untitled (Rust, Black, White). 1965
Robert Motherwell. Untitled (Rust, Black, White). 1965

His sophisticated minimal compositions opened my brain to the never-ending possibilities of abstract painting. I learned how painting with minimal elements could have a monumental emotional and intellectual impact.

What drew me to his work, even more, were the images of him stretched out with huge, long brushes, working on an enormous piece of canvas tacked to the floor.  I had already been looking at (an obsessed with) Pollock. I explored dripping, splattering and using house paint but Motherwell was unlike anything else I’d seen up to that point.

Robert Motherwell painting
Robert Motherwell. On the Wing. 1984
Robert Motherwell. On the Wing. 1984

Thus, I began to create my own “mini-Motherwells.” I wanted to know what it was like to paint like him, to layer paint on the surface of the canvas for the background, then “draw” a geometric shape (an open rectangle). I just felt compelled to explore what it was like to paint in the style of Motherwell. 

When I recently discovered the gorgeous work of artist Holly Addi on UpriseArt.com, I was immediately brought back to that first time I saw Motherwell’s paintings. Addi’s not afraid to sometimes include a random squiggle and those moments are really successful. Like Motherwell, Addi’s use of line and color is incredibly sophisticated, and she has a keen sense of how to put together shapes and forms.

Holly Addi painting
Holly Addi, San Pedro Cliffs. nd.
Holly Addi, San Pedro Cliffs. nd.

Holli Addi is an artist who lives and works in Salt Lake City, Utah. Addi’s paintings and mixed media works are abstract references to our contact with architecture and basic living elements, energy (heat, light, water), space and landscape. She’s concerned with themes of “public space”, as well as oppressing themes in contemporary society. 

Holly Addi painting
Holly Addi. Akken. nd

You can learn more about Holly Addi (and purchase her work!) on Uprise Art. To learn more about Uprise Art and buying art online, check out our A to Z guide.

Holly Addi. Azul Study 2. nd. Painting
Holly Addi. Azul Study 2. nd.

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