OCTOBER 30, 2014 - JANUARY 3, 2015

Robert Motherwell - Paul Kasmin Gallery



1915, January 24
Born to Robert Burns Motherwell II and Margaret Motherwell in Aberdeen, Washington.

Family moves to California.
Receives a scholarship to the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles, California

Attends Moran Preparatory School, Atascadero, California.

Studies painting briefly at California School of Fine Arts, San Francisco, California, before attending Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, receives BA in philosophy.
Completes one year of Philosophy PhD, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Travels in Europe. Spends the summer at the University of Grenoble, Grenoble, France.
Rents a studio in Paris, France from October 1938, to July 1939.

Teaches art, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon.

Moves to New York and studies history of art with Meyer Schapiro at Columbia University, New York.
Works as studio assistant to Surrealist artist, Kurt Seligmann.

Travels to Mexico with the Chilean surrealist painter Roberto Matta; does 'automatic' drawings and paints first major works including The Little Spanish Prison. Meets the Mexican actress Maria Emilia Ferreira y Moyers, whom he marries the following year.
Returns to New York in December; moves into Perry Street apartment in Greenwich Village, New York.

Permanently abandons university studies in favor of painting.
Meets William Baziotes and quickly gains entry to a group of New York artists including Pollock, de Kooning and Kline, who would come to be known as the abstract expressionists. Collaborates with Max Ernst and Andre Breton on the surrealist magazine VVV.
Exhibits in First Papers of Surrealism, New York.

Makes first collages with Jackson Pollock.

First one-man exhibition at Peggy Guggenheim's gallery, Art of This Century, New York.
First museum purchase, Pancho Villa, Dead and Alive, by Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Writes for Partisan Review.
Until 1951, edits and directs the Documents of Modern Art series.

Signs exclusive contract with Samuel Kootz Gallery, New York.
Spends spring in Florida with William Baziotes. Becomes friendly with Adolphe Gottlieb.
Teaches during the summer at Black Mountain College, North Carolina.
Moves to East Hampton, Long Island where he buys a studio designed by architect Pierre Chareau.

Meets Mark Rothko, Adolph Gottleib, Barnett Newman and Harold Rosenberg.
Included in the exhibition Fourteen Americans at Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Publishes Possibilities with John Cage, Pierre Chareau and Harold Rosenberg.

Founds the art school, Subjects of the Artists, with Baziotes, David Hare and Rothko. Later joined by Barnett Newman.
First use of the image that was to become the motif for the Elegy series as an illustration to a poem by Harold Rosenberg.

Divorces Maria Ferreira y Moyers. Opens Robert Motherwell School of Fine Art. Paints At Five in the Afternoon, the first large painting of the Elegy to the Spanish Republic series.

Marries Betty Little.
Meets David Smith.
Takes teaching post at Hunter College, New York.
Joins The Irascibles in protest of the anti-abstraction policy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Teaches during summer at Black Mountain College, North Carolina; Robert Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly are students.
Edits The Dada Painters and Poets: An Anthology, in the Documents of Modern Art series, writing the preface and the introduction.
Writes The School of New York for the Frank Perls Gallery, New York.
Lectures at The Museum of Modern Art, New York and Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Lectures at CAA, New York and at Washington University, Saint Louis, Missouri. Gives graduate seminar at Oberlin College, Ohio; participates in panel discussion in Woodstock, New York.

Buys brownstone at 173 East 94th Street, New York where he would reside until 1971.

Teaches at Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Colorado Springs, Colorado; meets Emerson Woelffer.

Guest of Federal Republic of Germany in exchange program.

Begins Je t’aime series, incorporating bold handwritten inscriptions and emphasizing the materiality of paint.
Included in the exhibition The New Decade: Thirty Five American Painters and Sculptors, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
Included in Museum of Modern Art, New York's exhibition Modern Art in The United States, which tours European cities.

Divorces Betty Little.
Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, becomes exclusive dealer.

Marries Helen Frankenthaler.

Included in Museum of Modern Art, New York's The New American Painting, which tours Europe.
Spends summer in Spain and France, mainly Saint Jean de Luz; begins Iberia series of black paintings.

First retrospective at Bennington College, Vermont.
Included in Documenta II, Kassel, Germany.

Interviewed by David Sylvester for the BBC: 'Painting as a Self-Discovery'; interview is later published in Metro magazine as 'Painting as Existence' (a title preferred by Motherwell).
Spends summer in Italy; starts Summertime in Italy series.

Creates first important print, Poet I, a lithograph published by Tatyana Grossman’s Universal Art Editions, Long Island, New York.
Retrospective exhibition at VI Bienal de Arte, Sao Paulo, Brazil, curated by Frank O’Hara.

Lectures and conducts workshops at Emily Lowe Art Gallery, Florida.
Buys house, Sea Barn, in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Begins the series Beside the Sea – paintings created by hitting the canvas or paper with a dripping brush attached to a yard-long handles.
Appointed visiting critic at University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

Becomes art consultant for Partisan Review.
Included in CBS television broadcast with fourteen other contemporary painters.
Marlborough-Gerson Gallery, New York becomes his exclusive dealer.

Visits Paris, France, Venice, Italy, and London, England.
Awarded 4th Guggenheim International Award, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.

Creates Lyric Suite, 565 'automatic' ink paintings on Japanese rice paper.
Major retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, curated by Frank O'Hara, with a major catalogue, the exhibition travels to museums in London, England, Brussels, Germany, Essen, Germany, and Turin, Italy.
Closest friend, David Smith is killed in an automobile accident. Motherwell is designated as executor of Smith's estate.

Begins Open series of paintings.
Illustrates edition of poems by Rimbaud for Museum of Modern Art, New York. (Project is abandoned.)
Becomes Fellow in Perpetuity of Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Elected advisory editor of the American Scholar.
Becomes general editor of Documents of 20th Century Art.
Becomes Benjamin Franklin Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, London, England.
Makes silkscreen prints for Spoleto Festival, Charleston, South Carolina.
Lectures on Dada and Surrealism at The Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois.
Summer in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Mark Rothko rents a house nearby.
Joins a number of protests against the Vietnam War.

Elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters, New York.
Donates 30 works from the Lyric Suite to the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in memory of Frank O’Hara.
Separates from Helen Frankenthaler.

Moves principal studio to Greenwich, Connecticut.
Rothko commits suicide; Motherwell writes a eulogy, delivered January 1971.
Protests Vietnam War by refusing to contribute to federally-sponsored exhibition. Participates in Art Workers' Coalition at Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Lecture at Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Nature of Abstraction.
Lectures at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.
Conducts seminar with Anthony Caro and Alex Colville at Toronto University, Toronto, Ontario, examining position of contemporary art in English speaking countries.

Divorces Frankenthaler.
Appointed distinguished professor at Hunter College, New York.

Marries the photographer Renate Ponsold.
Collage retrospective at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas.
Completes etchings for Alberti's A la pintura, published by Universal Limited Art Editions.
Lawrence Rubin becomes his main dealer (and subsequently heads M. Knoedler & Co., New York, London, Zurich).
Kenneth Tyler becomes his major collaborator in lithography.
Begins series In Plato’s Cave.

Begins making etchings on his personal press in Greenwich, Connecticut with Catherine Mousley.

Commissioned by the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. to paint a mural for the building’s East Wing.

Retrospective exhibitions at Museum of Modern Art, Mexico City and at the Princeton Art Museum, New Jersey.

Retrospective exhibitions in Dusseldorf, Germany, and Stockholm, Sweden.

Retrospective exhibitions in Vienna, Italy, Edinburgh, Scotland, and Paris, France.
Begins mural commissioned by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.
Publication of Robert Motherwell with text by H.H. Arnason, published by Harry N. Abrams, New York.

Retrospective exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art, London, England.
Receives Grande Medaille de Vermeil de la Ville de Paris, France, the first American painter to be so honored.
Mural installed at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Receives Gold Medal of Honor from Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (This was the first time the award had been given to non-figurative artist since its inception in 1893).
Experiments with thinning oil paint with turpentine, which results in the automatic series Drunk with Turpentine.
Exhibition Motherwell and Black, William Benton Museum of Art, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut.

Retrospective exhibitions in Barcelona and Madrid, Spain.
Awarded Gold Medal of Merit University of Salamanca, Spain.
Graphics retrospective Museum of Modern Art, New York, under the auspices of the American Federation of Arts.
Participates in the International James Joyce Symposium in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Mayor's Award for Arts and Culture of the City of New York, New York.
Awarded the Skowhegan Award for Printmaking.


Opening in November of Motherwell gallery in perpetuity in the Bavarian State Gallery of Modern Art, Munich, Germany.
Lectures at University of Munich, Germany; extracts published in Die Kunst, June, 1983; complete text published in Munchener Jahrbuch der Bildenden Kunste, 1983.
Revised edition of Robert Motherwell with texts by H.H. Arnason, Dore Ashton and an interview with Barbaralee Diamondstein, published by Harry N. Abrams, New York.

Writes foreword to Abstract Expressionist Painting by William C. Seitz, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Receives Gold Medal of Honor 1983, The National Arts Club, New York.

Retrospective of one hundred major works organized by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, October, touring to Los Angeles County Museum of Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Seattle Art Museum, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington DC and the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York.

Awarded Macdowell Colony Medal of Honor, Peterborough, New Hampshire; and Great Artist Series Award, New York University, New York.
Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Receives Honorary Doctorates from Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island and Hunter College, The City University of New York, New York.

Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York. Receives the Medalla d'Oro de Bellas Artes from King Juan Carlos, Spain.

Elected Officier de L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Ministry of Culture, Paris, France.

Receives Centennial Medal of Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Awarded the National Medal of Arts in Washington, D.C.

Enters Greenwich Hospital, Connecticut, after suffering a stroke. Recuperates and enjoys an intense period of painting in 1991.
Receives National Medal of Arts at the White House, Washington D.C.
Receives Harvard Centennial Medal, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Publication of Robert Motherwell by Jack Flam, Rizzoli International Publications, New York.
Publication of The Prints of Robert Motherwell by Hudson Hills Press in association with the American Federation of the Arts.
Dies at the age of seventy-six, on July 16, in Cape Cod, Massachusetts