Robert Motherwell (1915 - 1991)
Robert Motherwell was an American artist and seminal Abstract Expressionist painter. Influenced by the automatism prescribed by Surrealist poets and writers, Motherwell’s practice was characterized by an intuitive approach to painting. He is perhaps best known for his iconic Elegy to the Spanish Republic series, in which the artist painted over 150 variants of large black forms onto white backgrounds. “Painting is a medium in which the mind can actualize itself; it is a medium of thought,” he reflected. “Thus painting, like music, tends to become its own content.” Born on January 24, 1915 in Aberdeen, WA, Motherwell moved to New York to study at Columbia University with the art historian Meyer Schapiro, who encouraged Motherwell to make paintings. During the early 1940s, the artist entered the milieu of artists in the city, including William Baziotes, Jackson Pollock, William de Kooning ,and others who were part of the New York School. In 1951, Motherwell taught Cy Twombly and Robert Rauschenberg at the famed Black Mountain College. He continued to lecture and publish on art history for the rest of his career. Motherwell died on July 16, 1991 in Cape Cod, MA. Today, the artist’s works are held in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., The Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Tate Gallery in London, among others.
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