Robert Motherwell


Robert Motherwell (1915-1991, Washington) has a recognizable oeuvre of saturated and expressive brushstrokes. Along with fellow artistic giants Jackson Pollock, Ad Reinhardt, Barnett Newman and Helen Frankenthaler, the artist is well known for his contributions to Abstract Expressionism. Motherwell’s practice was informed by his knowledge of literature, philosophy and European modernist traditions. His work reflects not only a dialogue with art history, but also a sincere engagement with autobiographical content, contemporary events and the essential human conditions of life, death, oppression and revolution.


Motherwell earned a BA in philosophy from Stanford University with graduate work at Harvard and Columbia. He spent much of his career traveling the world and was regarded as the most articulate spokesman for Abstract Expressionism. After the artist’s death, esteemed art critic Clement Greenberg named Motherwell “one of the very best of the abstract expressionist painters.” Today, his works are found across the world, including in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.), Museum of Modern Art (New York), Tate Modern (London) and Guggenheim (Bilbao), among countless others.


Related Works

  • Helen Frankenthaler was married to Motherwell from 1958 to 1971, and was best known for her pioneering abstract expressionist work and soak-stain technique. View her work.
  • Abstract expressionist Richard Serra creates bold and dynamic monochrome paintings with unconventional materials. View his work.