Robert Motherwell (American, 1915–1991) was an American printmaker, editor, and painter. He is known for his contribution to the Color Field and Abstract Expressionist movements. He attended Stanford, Harvard, and Columbia University. At Columbia, he met Meyer Schapiro, who encouraged Motherwell to pursue painting at the New York School. Motherwell was one of the youngest to attend the school and met Philip Guston, Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollack, and Mark Rothko.
Motherwell’s work encompasses the automatism of the Surrealists, the expressive brushworks of action painting derived from Abstract Expressionism, and the saturated hues of Color Field painting. His work also includes responses to World War II and the Spanish Civil War. Motherwell taught Cy Twombly and Robert Rauschenberg at Black Mountain College in North Carolina in the 50s. He was also married to Helen Frankenthaler, a fellow abstract expressionist painter at the time. Motherwell traveled all over Europe and Mexico where he met and took influence from other well-known modern and surrealist artists of the mid-twentieth century.
To this day, Robert Motherwell is considered one of the greatest modern American painters. Many artists, historians, philosophers, and writers continue to take inspiration and draw context from his expansive collection of writing and art.