Robert Motherwell  (American, 1915-1991) 

Robert Motherwell (American, 1915–1991) is one of the founding artists of the New York School of Abstract Expressionism, and is associated with fellow artistic giants Jackson Pollock (American, 1912–1956), Ad Reinhardt (American, 1913–1967), and Barnett Newman (American, 1905–1970). As a graduate student at Harvard, Motherwell encountered writers who led him to pursue the expression of individuality through the action of gestural painting. In the early 1940s, Motherwell studied art history at Columbia under the famous scholar and critic Meyer Shapiro, who later introduced Motherwell to the art world.

Motherwell was influenced by the European Surrealist and Automatist émigré painters, and worked closely with Roberto Matta (Chilean, 1911–2002), with whom he travelled to Mexico in 1941. Spurred by this trip, Motherwell began creating several early works that hint at the gestural quality of his mature work. In the 1950s, his work became more abstracted, culminating in the production of his most famous and profoundly influential series, Elegy to the Spanish Republic. He is best known for his mature work, recognizable for its graphic composition of saturated and expressive brushstrokes. In addition to his contributions in painting, Motherwell taught at Black Mountain College in North Carolina and Hunter College in New York, and was the editor of several influential books on art history.

Find Robert Motherwell artworks for sale worldwide, artworks that sold at auction, a detailed biography, and more information on the artist below.
envelope Get email alerts about this artist!  
Artworks for sale (246)
In Art Galleries (240)
Dealers selling (91)
Dealers Buying (6)
In Upcoming Auctions (6)

Sold Artworks
In Past Auctions (4121)

Exhibitions (19)
Auctions (3)
Art Fairs (6)

artnet Magazine
Articles (37)

More Information
artnet Analytics Reports
Market Reports
* paid service

Artworks for sale (246)

View All   



Robert Motherwell

Jerald Melberg Gallery
Robert Motherwell, Wave


Robert Motherwell

Auction: Apr 30, 2014
Dallas Auction Gallery
View Details | entire auction
Robert Motherwell, Phoenician Etching


Robert Motherwell
Phoenician Etching

Auction: May 15, 2014
Leslie Hindman Auctioneers
View Details | entire auction
Robert Motherwell, Drunk with Turpentine


Robert Motherwell
Drunk with Turpentine

Manny Silverman Gallery
Robert Motherwell, Rite of Passage I


Robert Motherwell
Rite of Passage I

Tayloe Piggott Gallery
Robert Motherwell, Australian Stone


Robert Motherwell
Australian Stone

Tayloe Piggott Gallery
Robert Motherwell, Open Study (White Line on Beige #2)


Robert Motherwell
Open Study (White Line on Beige #2)

Bernard Jacobson Gallery
Robert Motherwell, Mediterranean


Robert Motherwell

Amy Simon Fine Art
Robert Motherwell, America - La France Variations VI


Robert Motherwell
America - La France Variations VI

Auction: Apr 28, 2014
Phillips New York
View Details | entire auction
Past auction results (4121)  View All
Robert Motherwell, Africa 9 (from Africa Suite)


Robert Motherwell
Africa 9 (from Africa Suite), 1970


View Details
Robert Motherwell, Untitled


Robert Motherwell
Untitled, 1978
monotype, lithograph, chine collé and handcoloring


View Details
Robert Motherwell, Rite of Passage I


Robert Motherwell
Rite of Passage I, 1979-1980
color lithograph


View Details

1915   Born: in Aberdeen, WA
1937   Received the Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy from Stanford University, Standford, CA
1937 - 1938   Enrolled at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
1940   Studied in Columbia University, where he was encouraged by Meyer Schapiro to shift fields to art and art history
1941   After a voyage to Mexico with the surrealist painter Matta, decided to make painting his primary vocation
1950 - 1959   Taught painting at Hunter College in New York, NY and in addtion to directing the influential Documents of Modern Art Series, he editied The Dada Painters and Poets: An Anthology, which was published in 1951.
1965   Was given a major retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art; this show subsequently traveled to Amsterdam, London, Brussels, Essen, and Turin
1967   Began to work on his Open series.
1970   Moved to Greenwich, CT
1977   Was given a major mural commission for the new wing of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
1960 - 1979   Exhibited widely in both America and Europe
1983   A major retrospective exhibition of Motherwell’s work was mounted at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York; this exhibition was subsequently shown in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and New York City
1991   Died: in Provincetown, MA
2013   A Survey - Jerald Melberg Gallery, Charlotte, NC
Ab-ex / Re-con - Abstract Expressionism Reconsidered - Nassau County Museum of Art, Roslyn Harbor, NY
The Artist and the Poet - The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Il Guggenheim. L'avanguardia americana 1945–1980 - Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome
2012   Robert Motherwell: Prints from the Artist's Studio (London) - Bernard Jacobson Gallery, London (England)
Robert Motherwell: Abstract Expressionist - Saint Louis University Museum of Art - SLUMA, Saint Louis, MO
The Essential Idea: Robert Motherwell's Graphic Works - Asheville Art Museum, Asheville, NC
2011   Robert Motherwell: Works on Paper - Bernard Jacobson Gallery, London (England)
Focus: Robert Motherwell - Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO
Robert Motherwell: Music - Greenfield Sacks Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
2010   Robert Motherwell - Paintings - Locks Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
Robert Motherwell - printmaking impressions - Galerie Weihergut Biberngasse, Salzburg
Lost in Form, Found in Line: Works by Robert Motherwell - Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, AL
2009   The Thaw Collection of Master Drawings: Aquisitions since 2002, Morgan Library and Museum, NY
Robert Motherwell: Unique Monotypes, Greenfield Sacks Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
Beyond the Canon: Small Scale American Abstraction 1945-1965, Robert Miller Gallery, NY
Robert Motherwell: Lost in Form, Found in Line, Turchin Center for the Visual Art, Boone, NC
Robert Motherwell, Galleria d'Arte il Gabbiano, Rome, Italy
2008   The Hands of Art, SMAK Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Gent
Museum Morsbroich, Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen
Robert Motherwell: Five Great Opens, Bernard Jacobsen Gallery London
Reflections on Light, Galerie Bernd Kluser, Munich, Germany
2007   Temptations, The Columns, Seoul, South Korea
2006   Black, Black & White, White, Leonard Hutton Galleries, New York , NY
2005   Looking at Words, erie, Das MoMA, Berlin, Germany
2004   Robert Motherwell, Rosenbaum Contemporary, Boca Raton, FL
Robert Motherwell, Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen, Germany
Robert Motherwell from the Collection: 1940–1990, The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, TX
2003   Robert Motherwell, Bernard Jacobson Gallery, London, UK
Robert Motherwell - A la pintura (to painting), The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA
2002   Robert Motherwell: Drawings and Related Prints - Greenfield Sacks Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
Robert Motherwell - Galerie Bernd Klüser, Munich, Germany
1999   Robert Motherwell: Unique Works on Paper: Monoprints and Monotypes, Greenfield Sacks Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
1998   Robert Motherwell's Graphics II, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA
1996   Robert Motherwell: Reality and Abstraction, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN
1994   Robert Motherwell's Graphics I, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA
1984   Robert Motherwell, The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
1983   The Painter and The Printer: Robert Motherwell's Graphics, 1943-1980, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA
M. Knowdler, Zurich (solo)
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY (solo)
1981 - 1983   M. Knoedler & Co., Inc. New York, NY (solo)
1982   'The New School: Four Decades," Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
  Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan
  Kiasma - Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Finland
  Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy
  The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC
  Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
  MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, MA
  Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
  The High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA
  University of Massachusetts, Amherst Fine Arts Center, Amherst, MA
1997    Robert Motherwell on Paper: Drawings, Prints, Collages( text by David Rosand): Harry N. Abrams; First Edition edition
   Robert Motherwell: A Dialogue with Literature(text by Robert Motherwell and Bernd Kluser), Galerie Bernd Klüser, Munich, Germany(catalogue)
   Robert Motherwell: The Complete Prints 1940-1991 Catalogue Raisonné(text by Robert Motherwell and Siri Engberg), Walker Art Center