Robert Motherwell (USA, 1915–91)

The name of painter, printmaker and writer Robert Motherwell is often taken as synonymous with the New York School, whose name he coined. Motherwell was the youngest of this group of Abstract Expressionists working in art, dance, poetry and music in 1950s and '60s New York City, which included Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Philip Guston and Mark Rothko.


Born in Aberdeen, Washington, in 1915, Motherwell had perhaps the broadest and best education of any of the New York School coterie, with an extensive background in philosophy, literature and art history. He earned a BA in philosophy in 1937 from Stanford University and was working toward a PhD in the subject at Harvard when he interrupted his studies for a yearlong trip to Europe, where he fell in love with European modernism.


After returning, in 1940 he enrolled Columbia to study art history. It was there that he met a group of exiled Parisian Surrealists, and encounter that proved influential on his style. Motherwell began to integrate the idea of “automatism” — unmediated gestures that reflect deeper psychological impulses — into his work, pioneering a new form of Abstract Expressionism that came to characterize the New York School.


Works like the 1967 Beside the Sea no. 45 , an acrylic on canvas, and the 1966 lithograph New York International epitomize Motherwell’s use of simple shapes in boldly contrasting colors, executed in quick, gestural strokes that occasionally evoke figures, suggesting a latent narrative despite their obvious abstraction.


Throughout his career, Motherwell taught painting at Hunter College, in New York, and at Black Mountain College, in North Carolina, where his work influenced the likes of Cy Twombly, Robert Rauschenberg and Kenneth Noland. His influence as one of the founding fathers of American Abstract Expressionism remains profound.

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Untitled from Ten Works + Ten Painters
Robert Motherwell
1960s Prints and Multiples
Screen Print
From the unsigned folio 10 prints + 10 painters published by The Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT 1964 edition or 500 paper size 24 x 20 inches.
Red Sea III
Red Sea III
Robert Motherwell
1980s Prints and Multiples
Etching, Aquatint
Aquatint and etching printed in red and black, 1983, signed in pencil and numbered 50/70 (total edition includes ten artist's proofs), on Georges Duchêne Hawthorne of Larroque handmade ...
America - La France Variations VI
Robert Motherwell
1980s Prints and Multiples
Lithograph
America - La France Variations VI AP, 1983-4 (11/28) Color lithograph and collage on white Arches Cover 46.50 x 32.12 in Frame size 49 x 34.5 x 2 in. Artist's proof, aside from the edi...
Elegy (Study)
Robert Motherwell
1970s Abstract Expressionist Abstract Prints
Artist: Robert Motherwell (1915-1991) Title: Elegy (Study) Year: 1979 Medium: Lithograph on Twinrocker handmade paper Edition: 62/98 Initialed and numbered in pencil upper left, with ...
Monster
Monster
Robert Motherwell
1970s Abstract Expressionist Abstract Prints
Lithograph
Lithograph on speckled gray HMP handmade paper 104.1 x 78.7 cms (41 x 31 ins) Edition of 26
Forever Black (El Negro)
Robert Motherwell
1980s Abstract Abstract Prints
Lithograph
Limited edition lithograph from his book El Negro
Octavio Paz Suite: Return
Robert Motherwell
1980s Contemporary Prints and Multiples
Lithograph
Lithograph & Chine Colle Edition of 50 28 1/4 x 19 3/8 inches Initialed MOTX424A
Hommage a Picasso: Window
Robert Motherwell
1970s Abstract Abstract Prints
Lithograph
Hommage a Picasso: Window, 1973 lithograph, ed 90, PP2 30 x 22"
Spanish Elegy I
Robert Motherwell
1970s Contemporary Prints and Multiples
Lithograph
Edition of 38 Lithograph 17 1/2 x 30 1/2 inches Signed and numbered MOTX174
Untitled- From Ten Works X Ten Painters
Robert Motherwell
1960s Abstract Expressionist Abstract Prints
This stunning screen print with collage was realized by the esteemed Abstract Expressionist artist Robert Motherwell in 1964. It features an anthropomorphic form- reminiscent of a styli...
Beau Geste VI
Beau Geste VI
Robert Motherwell
1980s Prints and Multiples
In 1940, a young painter named Robert Motherwell came to New York City and joined a group of artists – including Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko and Franz Kline - who se...
In Celebration
Robert Motherwell
20th Century Abstract Expressionist Abstract Prints
Offset lithograph on Rives BFK paper Edition of 200
Gesture IV
Robert Motherwell
1970s Contemporary Prints and Multiples
Aquatint
Lift-ground aquatint 34 5/8 x 25 7/8 inches Edition of 100 Signed and numbered MOTX208C
Beau Geste IV
Robert Motherwell
1980s Contemporary Prints and Multiples
Lithograph
Lithograph Edition of 100 22 x 15 inches Signed and numbered MOTX483
Octavio Paz Suite: Nocturne VIII
Robert Motherwell
1980s Contemporary Prints and Multiples
Lithograph
Lithograph and chine applique Edition of 50 25 3/8 x 21 1/4 inches Initialed MOTX422A
Spanish Elegy II
Robert Motherwell
Prints and Multiples
Lithograph
Robert Motherwell Spanish Elegy II, 1975 lithograph on brown hmp handmade paper 22 x 32 inches 55.9 x 81.3 cm Edition of 38 signed (PKE 20914)
America - La France Variatios VI
Robert Motherwell
Prints and Multiples
Lithograph
Robert Motherwell America - La France Variations VI, 1984 Lithograph and collage 46 x 31 1/2 inches 116.8 x 80 cm Edition of 60 Signed (PKE 19179)
Beige Open
Robert Motherwell
Prints and Multiples
Etching
Robert Motherwell Beige Open, 1981 Soft-ground etching on beige Auvergne a la Main Richard de Bas handmade paper 20 x 26 1/4 inches 50.8 x 66.7 cm Edition of 80 Signed (PKE 19173...
Summertime in Italy (with Lines)
Robert Motherwell
Prints and Multiples
Lithograph
Robert Motherwell Summertime in Italy (with Lines), 1966 lithograph on Rives BFK paper 22 1/4 x 17 inches 56.5 x 43.2 cm Edition of 100 + AP signed "Robert Motherwell" in pencil, ...
Summertime in Italy (with Lines)
Robert Motherwell
20th Century Abstract Expressionist Abstract Prints
Lithograph
recto signed "82/100, Robert Motherwell"
Wanderers
Robert Motherwell
20th Century Abstract Expressionist Abstract Prints
Etching
signed by Artist
Untitled
Untitled
Robert Motherwell
Late 20th Century Contemporary Prints and Multiples
Screen Print
This stunning display of simplicity and color by Robert Motherwell was created as an original screenprint as part of the famed, Basque suite in 1971. It measures 41 x 28 1/4 inches (10...
Untitled
Untitled
Robert Motherwell
Late 20th Century Contemporary Prints and Multiples
Etching, Aquatint
An extraordinary etching by Robert Motherwell, Untitled, 1973 is an equisite study in simple line and color with a profoud result. This original print is hand0signed by the artist in p...
Gray Open with White Paint
Robert Motherwell
20th Century Abstract Expressionist Abstract Prints
Etching
Signed, from the edition of 79.
America - La France Variations VI
Robert Motherwell
20th Century Abstract Prints
Lithograph and collage
Seaside Studio
Robert Motherwell
20th Century Abstract Expressionist Abstract Prints
Etching
signed by Artist
Basque Suite #6
Robert Motherwell
1970s American Modern Abstract Prints
Lithograph
Color Lithograph Image Size: Approx. 22 x 17 inches Framed: Approx. 26 x 21 inches Signed and Numbered Ed. 150 American painter, Robert Motherwell, was one of the founders and princip...
America-La France Variations II
Robert Motherwell
1980s Abstract Abstract Prints
Mixed Media, Lithograph
Signed and Numbered Edition 1/70 Color Lithograph with Collage On Handmade Papers with Blindstamp of the Publisher, Tyler Graphics, Ltd Sheet Size: approx 46 x 29 inches Framed Size: ...
Red Sea I
Robert Motherwell
1970s Contemporary Prints and Multiples
Etching, Aquatint
Red Sea I, 1976 Aquatint 41 1/2 x 29 1/16 inches Edition of 100 Signed and numbered MOTX158C
Untitled from Madrid Suite
Untitled from Madrid Suite
Robert Motherwell
1960s Contemporary Abstract Prints
Paper
Signed original lithograph from" Madrid Suite" (1965-66) by Robert Motherwell (1915 - 1991). From a portfolio of ten lithographs. Image size 20 x 25 3/4 inches, sheet: 22 1/4 x 30 1/8 ...
Red Open with White Line
Robert Motherwell
1970s Contemporary Prints and Multiples
Aquatint, Etching
Aquatint and soft-ground etching 18 1/2 x 35 5/8 inches Edition of 56 Signed and numbered MOTX238A
Lament for Lorca
Robert Motherwell
1980s Post-War Abstract Prints
Paper, Lithograph
A color lithograph on paper by Post War artist Robert Motherwell. "Lament for Lorca" is an abstract lithograph executed primarily in black, with orange and white. Edition 52/52/ Signed ...
Running Elegy II
Robert Motherwell
1980s Abstract Abstract Prints
Etching, Aquatint
Description Etching and aquatint printed in yellow and black, 1983, an artist's proof aside from the numbered edition of ten, on Georges Duchene Hawthorne of Larroque handmade paper Si...
Art 1981 Chicago
Robert Motherwell
1980s Abstract Expressionist Abstract Prints
Lithograph
An original lithograph exhibition poster on heavy cream Strathmore paper after American artist Robert Motherwell (1915-1992) titled "Chicago International Art Expo", 1981. Tyler Graphic...
Red Queen
Robert Motherwell
1980s Contemporary Prints and Multiples
Aquatint, Etching
Aquatint, etching and collage 31 x 25 inches Edition of 40 Signed and numbered MOTX476B
Greenwich Arts Council
Robert Motherwell
1970s Abstract Expressionist Abstract Prints
Lithograph
An original lithograph exhibition poster on heavy cream Strathmore paper by American artist Robert Motherwell (1915-1992) titled "Greenwich Arts Council", 1976. From the unsigned limit...
Chair
Chair
Robert Motherwell
20th Century Contemporary Abstract Prints
Lithograph
This original lithograph in colors on Wove BFK Rives paper was created by the artist in 1971/72. Signed in pencil and numbered, from the edition of 300 measuring 38 ¾ x 27 ½ in. (98.3 x...
Signed Lithograph by Robert Motherwell Untitled Ab...
Robert Motherwell
1960s Abstract Expressionist Abstract Prints
Lithograph
Robert Motherwell untitled abstract pale blue on white lithograph 9: Untitled (W.A.C. 56). Lithograph printed in pale blue on white paper. Initialed in penciel and numbered V/XX, 1966-1...
Untitled
Untitled
Robert Motherwell
1970s Abstract Expressionist Abstract Prints
Etching, Aquatint
Edition of 69 65.4 x 50.2 cms (25.75 x 19.75 ins)
Gesture I (State I)
Robert Motherwell
1970s Abstract Expressionist Abstract Prints
Color Print, Lithograph
Aquatint, lift-ground etching and aquatint on J.B. Green paper 89.5 x 66.7 cms (35 1/4 x 26 1/4 ins) Edition of 75
Stephen's Iron Crown Etched
Robert Motherwell
1980s Abstract Expressionist Abstract Prints
Etching, Aquatint
Aquatint, lift-ground etching and aquatint on German Etching paper Edition of 66 64.1 x 71.8 cms (25.25 x 28.25 ins)
Summer Sign
Summer Sign
Robert Motherwell
1990s Abstract Expressionist Abstract Prints
Color Print
Carborundum on Whatman paper Edition of 38 84.1 x 78.7 cms (33 1/8 x 31 ins)
Calligraphic Study IV
Robert Motherwell
1970s Abstract Expressionist Abstract Prints
Etching, Aquatint
Lift-ground etching and aquatint on HMP handmade paper Edition of 30 57.7 x 45.7 cms (22-3/4 x 18 ins)
Primal Sign II
Primal Sign II
Robert Motherwell
1980s Abstract Expressionist Abstract Prints
Etching, Aquatint
Edition 45 77.5 x 52.1 cms (30 1/2 x 20 1/2 ins)
Beau Geste For Lucrece VI
Robert Motherwell
Late 20th Century Abstract Expressionist Abstract Prints
Lithograph
This artwork titled, Beau Geste For Lucrece, 1989, is an original color lithograph on Buff Arches paper by American artist Robert Motherwell (1915-1991). It is hand signed with initials...
Carnegie Hall
Carnegie Hall
Robert Motherwell
Late 20th Century Abstract Expressionist Abstract Prints
Lithograph, Screen Print
This artwork, titled "Carnegie Hall," from the suite New York, New York, 1982, is an original color lithograph with silkscreen and embossing by American artist Robert Motherwell (1915-1...
Roth-Handle II: Ochre
Robert Motherwell
20th Century Pop Art Abstract Prints
Aquatint
Here is a wonderful pop art etching by Motherwell. Low edition that is pencil signed and numbered 3 of an edition of 6. It was produced in 1975 and done in several colors, of which this...
Delicados
Robert Motherwell
1980s Post-War Mixed Media
Mixed Media, Acrylic Paint
Robert Motherwell Delicados, 1980 Acrylic and collage on board 10 x 8 in
Open No. 57: Green and Black
Robert Motherwell
1960s Abstract Paintings
Acrylic Paint
Robert Motherwell Open No. 57: Green and Black, 1969-70 Acrylic On Canvas 24 x 36 in
Summer Light Series: Pauillac, No.4
Robert Motherwell
1970s Abstract Expressionist Abstract Prints
Color Print, Lithograph, Mixed Media
90.2 x 45.7 cms (35.5 x 18 ins) Edition of 54 Paper: Georges Duchene Hawthorne of Larroque handmade paper; Chateau Latour wine label; tan Beckett paper Proofs: 12 AP, 1 CP, 3 Gemin...
Game of Chance
Game of Chance
Robert Motherwell
1980s Abstract Expressionist Abstract Prints
Aquatint, Color Print, Lithograph, Mixed Media
88.3 x 69.9 cms (34.7 x 27.51 ins) Edition of 100
Red Sea I
Red Sea I
Robert Motherwell
1970s Abstract Expressionist Abstract Prints
Aquatint, Color Print, Etching
105.4 x 74 cms (41 1/2 x 29 1/8 ins) Edition of 100 Paper: Arches Cover Signature: Signed "Motherwell" in pencil lower right Inscriptions: Numbered in pencil lower right; artist's...
Untitled
Untitled
Robert Motherwell
1960s Abstract Expressionist Abstract Prints
Black-and-white Print, Lithograph
30 x 22 in. (76.2 x 55.9 cm) Edition of 100 Paper: Rives BFK paper Proofs:AP (unrecorded), 1 PP Signature:Signed "Motherwell" in pencil lower right Inscriptions:Numbered in pen...
Summertime in Italy (with Lines)
Robert Motherwell
1960s Abstract Expressionist Abstract Prints
Color Print, Lithograph
24.25 x 17 ins (61.6 x 43.2 cms) Edition of 100 Signature Signed "Motherwell" in pencil lower right Publisher Hollander Workshop, New York Printer Irwin Hollander, Hollander Works...
Untitled
Untitled
Robert Motherwell
1970s Abstract Expressionist Abstract Prints
Aquatint, Color Print
41.5 x 29.5 ins (105.4 x 74.9 cms) Edition of 50 Signature:Signed "Motherwell" in pencil lower right Inscriptions:Numbered in pencil lower right; artist's chop mark lower right Pu...
Gray Open with White Paint
Robert Motherwell
1980s Abstract Expressionist Abstract Prints
Color Print, Etching
20.24 x 26.26 ins (51.4 x 66.7 cms) Edition of 79 Signature:Signed "RM" in pencil lower left Inscriptions:Numbered in pencil lower left; artist's chop mark lower right Publisher:A...
Africa suite: Africa 7
Robert Motherwell
1970s Abstract Expressionist Abstract Prints
Screen Print
40.75 x 28.25 ins (103.5 x 71.8 cms) Edition of 150
Summer Trident
Summer Trident
Robert Motherwell
1990s Abstract Expressionist Abstract Prints
Color Print, Lithograph
14.13 x 16.14 ins (35.9 x 41 cms) Edition of 200