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Two black, abstract shapes against a white background dominate this wide, horizontal painting. One column-like, black shape is to our left, about a quarter of the way in from the left edge of the canvas. The bottom edge of the black form is jagged and an irregular bump protrudes at the center of the right side of that shape. The other black form fills most of the right half of the composition. That shape is made of two forms resembling very fat Ps with spines that curve around the protruding bumps, to our right. There are small spatters and dribbles of black paint around some of the shapes that only could have been made by striking the canvas with some force. The white background is outlined near the inner edges of the canvas, creating a subtle frame that contains the massive black shapes. Vertical lines, most of them smudged or faint, create vertical sections across the composition. A blurred, steel-blue line appears in the left most column. Thin washes of smoky blue and rose pink spread in areas across the composition. The artist signed and dated the painting in the lower right, “R. Motherwell 1978.”

Robert Motherwell, Reconciliation Elegy, 1978, acrylic on canvas, Gift of the Collectors Committee, 1978.20.1

A Collective Dialogue: Exploring Belonging through Art & Empathy

Focus: The Collection

  • Friday, April 21, 2023
  • 1:00 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.
  • East Building, Concourse Lobby
  • Talks
  • In-person

Join us for a gallery talk in front of Robert Motherwell’s Reconciliation Elegy. Elif Gokcigdem will guide visitors through an interactive conversation, incorporating movement and dialogue, to explore belonging through art and empathy.

About Elif Gokcigdem

Dr. Elif Gokcigdem is the founding president of ONE - Organization of Networks for Empathy and the author of Fostering Empathy Through Museums, 2016, and Designing for Empathy: Perspectives on the Museum Experience, 2019. Dr. Gokcigdem’s Designing for Empathy® is a patented framework and an international platform for multidisciplinary, multisector, and multicultural collaborations to deepen our understanding of empathy and develop strategies, scholarship, and empathy-building experiences that consider the wellbeing of the whole —all of humanity and our planet. In 2018, she curated and co-chaired the world’s first summit on Fostering Universal Ethics and Compassion through Museums with The Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India. This event became the Annual Designing for Empathy Summit & Workshops, which celebrates its sixth year in 2023. Originally from Istanbul, Turkey, Dr. Gokcigdem studied the history of Islamic art and mysticism, as well as museum studies and currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the Museum of Us.