ROBERT MOTHERWELL CHRONOLOGY



Robert Motherwell was born on January 24, 1915 in Aberdeen, Washington. As a child, he moved with his family to California - first to Los Angeles and then to San Francisco. After receiving a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy from Stanford University in 1937, he pursued graduate studies in philosophy at Harvard. He spent a year in Paris and then moved to New York in 1939, where he studied art history with Meyer Schapiro at Columbia University. Renowned as one of the founders of Abstract Expressionism, Motherwell became an artist of international stature. His career encompassed more than five decades, and received virtually every honor accorded to an artist. His work has been the subject of countless museum exhibitions and publications. Robert Motherwell died in July of 1991.


1915
Born January 24 in Aberdeen, Washington

1918
Family moves to California

1919/26
Family lives in Salt Lake City, Utah

1926
Family moves permanently to California. Receives scholarship to Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles

1929-32
Attends Moran Preparatory School, Atascadero, CA

1932-37
Studies painting briefly at California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco before attending Stanford University, Palo Alto, California. Receives Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy.

1937
Attends Harvard University, Cambridge, MA for graduate studies in philosophy.

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

1940
Returns to United States. Enters Department of Art History and Archeology at Columbia University, New York, NY as graduate student under Professor Meyer Schapiro who encourages him to paint in addition to introducing him to European artists in exile.

1941
Travels to Mexico with Chilean Surrealist painter Roberto Matta. Does "automatic" drawings and paints first major paintings including The Little Spanish Prison. Meets 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.

1942
Permanently abandons university studies in favor of painting. Spends first summer in Provincetown, Cape Cod, Mass. Collaborates on first Surrealist magazine VVV. Included in First Papers of Surrealism exhibition, Whitelaw Reid Mansion, New York.

1943
Father dies. Makes first collages. Spends second summer in Provincetown.

1944
First solo exhibition at Peggy Guggenheim's gallery Art of This Century, New York, NY. The Museum of Modern Art purchases Pancho Villa, Dead and Alive. Edits and directs The Documents of Modern Art series. Writes for Partisan Review.

1945
Studies engraving with Stanley William Hayter. Signs exclusive contract with Samuel Kootz Gallery, New York. Spends spring in Florida with William Baziotes, interested in the southern light; becomes friendly with Adolph Gottlieb. Teaches during summer at Black Mountain College, North Carolina. Moves to East Hampton, Long Island, New York where he buys a studio designed by architect Pierre Chareau.

1946
Meets Mark Rothko in East Hampton. Included in Fourteen Americans exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

1947
Included in Introduction to American Painting at Galerie Maeght, Paris, France. Collaborates with John Cage, Pierre Chareau and Harold Rosenberg in publishing Possibilities.

1948
First use of image to later become motif for Elegy to the Spanish Republic.  Creates informal school "The Subjects of the Artist." with Rothko, Baziotes, Hare in New York (School closes in May 1949). Divorces Maria Emilia Ferreira y Moyers.

1950
Appointed to graduate faculty at Hunter College, New York, where he teaches until 1958. Meets David Smith. Joins "The Irascibles. Marries Betty Little.

1951
Teaches during summer at Black Mountain College; Robert Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly are students. Writes The School of New York for the Frank Perls Gallery, New York. Lectures at The Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Massachusetts.

1953
Daughter Jeannie is born.

1955
Daughter Lise is born.

1957
Sidney Janis Gallery becomes his exclusive dealer. Separates from Betty Little.

1958
Spends summer in Spain and France.  Begins Iberia series of black paintings. Marries Helen Frankenthaler.

1960
Interviewed by David Sylvester for BBC; Painting as a Self Discovery. Interview published in Metro magazine as Painting as Existence (a title preferred by Motherwell). Included in panel on The Concept of the New with Philip Guston, Ad Reinhardt, Harold Rosenberg and Jack Tworkov at the Philadelphia Museum School of Art.  Spends summer in Italy; starts Summertime in Italy series.

1961
Begins to make prints at Tatyana Grosman's Universal Limited Art Editions Studio, West Islip, Long Island, NY. Retrospective exhibition at VI Bienal de Arte, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

1963
Marlborough-Gerson Gallery becomes his exclusive dealer. Visits London and Paris. Spends summer in Provincetown.

1964
Visits Paris, Venice and London. Awarded 4th Guggenheim International Award, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY.

1965
Interview with Byron Robertson shown on New York City Educational Television. Signs several protests against the war in Vietnam. Creates Lyric Suite (565 "automatic" paintings in ink on Japanese rice paper).  Closest friend, David Smith killed in automobile accident; designated as executor of Smith's estate. Visits Paris, Venice, Dubrovnik, Athens, Greek Islands and London with family during summer. Retrospective exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY which travels to museums in Amsterdam, London, Brusells, Essen and Turin through 1966.

1966
Executes very large mural for John F. Kennedy Federal Building, Boston, MA.

1967
Begins Open series. Illustrates edition of poems by Rimbaud for The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY. (Project is abandoned.) Becomes Fellow in Perpetuity of Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY.

1968
Becomes Benjamin Franklin Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, London. Makes silkscreen prints for Spoleto Festival. Lectures on Dada and Surrealism at the Art Institute of Chicago.  Summer in Provincetown; Mark Rothko rents a place nearby. Joins in number of protests against Vietnam war.

1969
Creates silkscreen for International Rescue committee. Elected to National Institute of Arts and Letters, New York, NY. Separates from Helen Frankenthaler.

1970
Moves his principal studio and residence from New York City to Greenwich, Connecticut but retains his Provincetown studio and residence for the summers. Death of friend Mark Rothko. Lectures at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY: "The Nature of Abstraction," Lectures at Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT. Conducts seminar with Anthony Caro and Alex Colville at Toronto University, examining position of contemporary art in English-speaking countries.

1972
Completes livre de peintre, A la pintura, illustrating poems by Rafael Alberti published by Universal Limited Art Editions, Long Island, NY. Lawrence Rubin becomes his exclusive dealer. Exhibitions at Knoedler and Co., in New York, London and Zurich. Kenneth Tyler becomes his major collaborator in lithography. Begins In Plato's Cave series. Marries photographer Renate Ponsold.

1973
Purchases etching press, begins making own editions in Greenwich studio with Catherine Mousley. Receives Honorary doctorate from Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY.

1974
Creates paintings The Persian and The Spartan. Severe illness and radical surgery.

1975
Retrospective exhibition at the Museo de Art Moderna, Mexico City, Mexico.

1976
Retrospective exhibitions in Dusseldorf, Germany and Stockholm, Sweden.  Television interview by Robert Hughes for BBC London. Wine label commissioned by Baron Philippe de Rothschild.

1977
Retrospective exhibitions in Vienna, Edinburgh and Paris.  Receives Grande Medaille de Vermeil de la Ville de Paris. Begins mural commissioned by National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

1978
Retrospective exhibition in London.

1979
Receives Gold Medal of Honor from Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA. Retrospective exhibition at William Benton Museum of Art, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT.

1980
Retrospective exhibitions in Barcelona and Madrid. Awarded Gold Medal of Merit from University of Salamanque, Spain.  Received Honorary Doctorate from Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island. Graphics Retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY organized by the American Federation of the Arts.

1981
Receives Mayor's Award for Arts and Culture of the City of New York. Receives Showhegan Award for Printmaking.

1982
Dedication of the Motherwell Gallery (in perpetuity) at the Bavarian State Museum of Modern Art, Munich, Germany. Lectures at University of Munich; extracts published in Die Kunst, June, 1983; complete text published in Munchner Jahrbuch der Bildenden Kunste, 1983.

1983
Receives Gold Medal of Honor 1983, The National Arts Club, New York. Retrospective of 100 major works at the Albright-Know Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY.

1985
Awarded Macdowell Colony Medal of Honor, Peterborough, New Hampshire and Great Artist Series Award, New York University. Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Cambridge, MA. Receives Honorary Doctorates from Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island and Hunter College, The City University of New York.

1986
Elected to American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York. Awarded Medallo d'Oro de Bellas Artes, Madrid, Spain.

1987
Receives Wallace Award from American Scottish Foundation, New York.

1988
Elected Officier de L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Ministry of Culture, Paris, France.

1989
Receives Centennial Medal of Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.

1990
Receives National Medal of Arts at the White House. Receives Harvard Centennial Medal.

1991
Retrospective at the Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City; subsequently shown at the Museum de Monterey, Monterey, Mexico; Fort Worth Art Museum, Fort Worth, TX.  Publication of The Prints of Robert Motherwell by Hudson Hills Press in association with the American Federation of the Arts. Dies in July.



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