Robert Motherwell: Artist Portrait

Robert Motherwell

Born 1915. Died 1991.

Works by Robert Motherwell at Sotheby's

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Robert Motherwell Biography

Alongside such great artists such as Franz Kline, Jackson Pollock, and Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell is considered one of the key progenitors of Abstract Expressionism. His bold, abstract, and often intuitive style and approach to painting not only garnered him international acclaim during his lifetime, but has also helped establish his standing in art historical canon, as the presence of his work in a multitude of national and international collections can attest.
Born on January 24 in Aberdeen, Washington, Motherwell’s artistic talent was recognized early on; at the tender age of 11 he was awarded a fellowship to the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. After temporarily studying painting at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco, he went on to complete formal training at Stanford University, where he ultimately received his B.A. Motherwell subsequently undertook graduate studies at both Harvard University in Cambridge, and Columbia University in New York City (where he studied the history of art with Meyer Schapiro)—his extensive experience in academia reflects the intelligence and contemplativeness that he came to be known for, both in his personality and his painting.
Living in New York City in the 1940s allowed Motherwell to develop a strong artistic social circle, and he became close with fellow artists such as Hans Hofmann, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Willem de Kooning. His active role in the art scene of the city contributed to the production of a solo exhibition in 1944 at the celebrated Art of This Century gallery, operated by Peggy Guggenheim. From this point, he went on to show extensively both nationally and internationally as his career and work gained both attention and acclaim.
Like many artists from his generation, later in his life he sought out respite and inspiration away from New York City. In 1971 he relocated to Provincetown, Massachusetts. He lived and worked on Cape Cod for many years before his death on July 16, 1991.

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Artist Image: 1959 Arnold Newman