Robert Motherwell

Biography

Born in 1915, Robert Motherwell studied art and philosophy in several schools before he attended Columbia University in New York. While in New York he met several Surrealist artists with whom he exchanged artistic and philosophical theories. Motherwell was particularly interested in the ideas of automatic writing, the subconscious, and the use of collage. Through his frequent experimentation with collage he became a master in this modernist medium. Incorporating many of the ideas set forth in his paintings, drawings, and collages, his prints and illustrated books form an extraordinary compendium of a career spent investigating the modernist tradition and the power of abstraction.

When Motherwell's long and prolific career ended with his death in 1991, he was a celebrated Abstract Expressionist painter and central figure in postwar American art. A renowned and innovative printmaker, Motherwell produced more than 500 editions in an extensive variety of media. His ability to express the monumental in his paintings carries into his graphic work, as does his tendency to shift between melancholy and hope.

Motherwell's work is part of many public collections including the Fundación Joan Miró, Barcelona, Spain; Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy; Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, Texas; Kunstmuseum Basel, Basel, Switzerland; Museo Guggenheim de Arte Moderno y Contemporáneo, Bilbao, Spain; Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Basel, Switzerland; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; Tate Britain, London, England; Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Sprengel Museum Hannover, Germany.