Artist biography

Robert Motherwell born 1915 [- 1991]

American Abstract Expressionist painter, active also as editor, writer and teacher. Born in Aberdeen, Washington. Studied painting briefly at California School of Fine Arts, San Francisco, in 1932, then took a degree in philosophy at Stanford University 1932-6. After philosophy studies at other universities, moved in 1940 to New York to study art history at Columbia University. Turned increasingly to painting, became friendly with Matta and the other Surrealists then living in New York, and decided in 1941 to become a professional painter. Met Baziotes and Pollock and experimented with them in the use of automatism and other Surrealist techniques. Became director in 1944 of the series The Documents of Modern Art published by Wittenborn and Schultz, devoted to the writings of leading 20th century artists and critics. First one-man exhibition at Peggy Guggenheim's gallery Art of This Century, New York, 1944. Collaborated with Baziotes, Hare, Rothko and later Newman in running the art school The Subjects of the Artist 1948-9, and has since been widely active as a teacher and lecturer. Painted many large pictures, including extensive series known as 'Elegy to the Spanish Republic' and 'Open', and has also made a number of collages. Moved in 1971 from New York to Greenwich, Connecticut; has spent most summers since 1956 at Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.545-6