Motherwell, Robert

Robert Motherwell was born in Aberdeen, Washington, on January 24, 1915. He was reared largely on the Pacific Coast and spent most of his school years in California, where he graduated from Stanford University in 1937. Motherwell also did graduate work in philosophy at Harvard University and in 1940 he studied briefly at Columbia University.

In 1944 he had his first one-man show at Peggy Guggenheim’s “Art of This Century” gallery. Beginning in the mid-1940s, Motherwell became the leading spokesman for avant-garde art in America.   In 1948, he began to work with his celebrated Elegy to the Spanish Republic theme, which he continued to develop throughout his life. From 1950 to 1959, Motherwell also taught painting at Hunter College, in New York.

In 1958–59, Motherwell was included in “The New American Painting” exhibition, initiated by the Museum of Modern Art, which was shown in numerous European cities.  During the 1960s, Motherwell exhibited widely in both America and Europe and in 1965 he was given a major retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art; this show subsequently traveled to Amsterdam, London, Brussels, Essen, and Turin.

In 1983, a major retrospective exhibition of Motherwell’s work was mounted at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York; this exhibition was subsequently shown in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and New York City. Another retrospective was shown in Mexico City, Monterey, and Fort Worth, Texas, in 1991.

Robert Motherwell died in Provincetown, Massachusetts on July 16, 1991.

Over a long and distinguished career, Motherwell was the recipient of numerous awards and honors, and his works are on display in museums throughout the world.