One of the youngest members of the renowned New York School, Robert Motherwell is considered one of the great American Abstract Expressionist painters. Having an extensive formal education, he created expressive works which not only reflect a dialogue with art history, philosophy and contemporary art, but also the essential human condition.
While studying art history at the Columbia University, Motherwell met a group of exiled Parisian Surrealists, an encounter that proved influential in his style. Incorporating the idea of “automatism” into his work, he pioneered a new form of Abstract Expressionism characterized by an intuitive approach to painting. His works are characterized by simple shapes in boldly contrasting colors, executed in a dynamic balance between restrained and boldly gestural brushstrokes. In addition to painting, he was also an accomplished printmaker and an avid collagist.
Having an esteemed intellect and being well versed in literature, philosophy and the European modernist traditions, Motherwell was one of the leading writers, theorists, and advocates of the New York School.
In 1981, the artist founded the Motherwell Foundation, today existing under the name Dedalus Foundation, aimed at fostering, cultivating and supporting public understanding and appreciation of the principles of modern art expressed through the theories of modernism. In addition to devoting special care and attention to Motherwell’s own artistic legacy, the foundation continues to initiate and support a number of projects related to modern art and the principles of modernism, including the annual Robert Motherwell Book Award.
Motherwell is best known for his “Elegy to the Spanish Republic”, a series of 140 paintings memorializing the injustices of the Spanish Civil War, which he worked on throughout his life.
Robert Motherwell was born in Aberdeen, Washington in 1915 and spent a significant amount of his career in New York. In 1957, he met Helen Frankenthaler whom he married three years later. He died in Cape Cod, Massachusetts in 1991.