Robert Motherwell (1915-1991), an American painter, printmaker and editor, was a pioneering figure of Abstract Expressionism and the Color Field period. His campaign of avant-garde art in the US, influenced by the Surrealists, began with his idea of automatism as a principle of art, bringing it in the early 1940s to a group of artists, who would later be known as The New York School. Although he was one of the youngest Abstract Expressionists, he played a significant role in the intellectual and artistic development of the art world at that time.
Born in Aberdeen, Washingtn, Motherwell was raised in San Francisco, CA. He studied at Stanford University, CA, and Harvard University, Cambridge before moving to New York and continuing his education at Columbia University, NY in 1940. He was deeply influenced by Roberto Matta and the concept of automation. During the 1940s, like his contemporaries, Motherwell employed recognizable imagery, expressive calligraphic marks, and literary and political concepts. During the late 1940s and 1950s, Motherwell primarily taught at Black Mountain College, NC, and Hunter College, New York. He returned fully to his art in the late 1950s. His collages, which he began to reproduce by lithographic means in the 1960s, incorporated material from his studio life, such as cigarette packets and labels from artists’ supplies.
Motherwell’s first one-man exhibition was held in 1944 at Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of This Century Gallery, New York. He has since exhibited worldwide, among them Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Albright-Knox At Gallery, Buffalo; Royal Academy of Art, London; Stadtisches Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; and The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.