Robert Motherwell


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



Family moves to California.



Family live in Salt Lake City, Utah.



Family moves permanently to California. Receives a scholarship to the Otis Art Institute

in Los Angeles.



Studies painting briefly at California School of Fine Arts, San Francisco before attending

 Stanford University, Palo Alto, California receives BA in  philosophy.



Completes one year of a Philosophy PhD, Harvard University.



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



Teaches Art, University of Oregon, Eugene.



Moves to New York and studies History of Art with Meyer Shapiro, at Columbia University.

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 paintings including The Little Spanish Prison.  Meets the Mexican actress Maria Emilia Ferreria y Moyers whom he marries the following year.

Returns to New York City in December ; moves into Perry Street Apartment in Greenwich village.



Permanently abandons university studies in favour of painting. Meets William Baziotes and quickly gains entry to a group of New York Artists including Pollock, Rothko and Kline, who would come to be known as Abstract Expressionists. Collaborates with Max Ernst and André Breton on the surrealist magazine VVV.



Father dies. Income ceases. 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 Gottleib. 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 in East Hampton. Included in 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 Newman. First use of the image which was to become the motif for the Elegy series.



Divorces Maria Ferreira y Moyers. Opens Robert Motherwell School of Fine Art.



Marries Betty Little. Meets David Smith.

Takes teaching post at Hunter College, New York.



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. Lectures at Museum of Modern Art, New York and Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University.



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



Daughter Jeannie born.



Teaches at Colorado Springs Fine Arts Centre ; meets Emerson Woelffer. Guest of Federal

Republic of Germany in exchange program.



Included in exhibition "The New Decade : Thirty Fine American Painters and Sculptors", Whitney Museum of  American Art, New York.

Daughter Lise born.

Included in MoMA'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 MoMA'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. Resigns from Hunter College.



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



Travels to London and Paris. Begins to make prints at Tatyana Grosman's Universal Limited Art Editions  Studio, Long Island. Retrospective exhibition at VI Bienal de Arte, Sao Paulo, Brazil.



Lectures and conducts workshops at Emily Lowe Art Gallery, Florida. Buys house in Princetown, "Sea Barn".

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



Creates Lyric Suite, 565 ink drawings.

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, Brussels, Essen and Turin.

David Smith dies in driving accident.



Begins Open series of paintings.



Elected advisory editor of the "American Scholar". Becomes general editor of Documents of 20th Century Art. Joins a number of protests against the Vietnam War.



Elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters, New York.

Separates from Helen Frankenthaler.



Moves principal studio to Greenwich, Connecticut. Rothko commits suicide and Motherwell

writes a eulogy delivered January 1971.

Protests Vietnam War by refusing to contribute to federally sponsored exhibition. Participates

in Art Workers "Coalition at MoMA.



Divorces Frankenthaler. Appointed distinguished professor at Hunter College.

Begins sessions with Blackwood Productions for documentary film on him.



Marries the photographer Renate Ponsold.

Collage retrospective at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Complete etchings for Alberti's A la pintura published by Universal Limited Art Editions.

Lauwrence Rubins 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 own press in Greenwich, with Catherine Mousley.



Emergency hospitalisation. Undergoes major surgery at Mt. Sinai Hospital, New York, remains on heart drug therapy and monitoring for remainder of his life.



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




Retrospective exhibitions in Dusseldorf and Stockholm.



Retrospective exhibitions in Vienna, Edinburgh and Paris.

Begins mural commissioned by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.



Retrospective exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art, London.

Receives Grande Medaille de Vermeil de la Ville de Paris. Mural installed at the National Gallery of Art.



Receives Gold Medal of Honour from Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia.

Retrospective exhibition, William Benton Museum of Art, University of Connecticut, Storrs.



Retrospective exhibitions in Barcelona and Madrid. Awarded Gold medal University of Salamanca, Spain. Graphics retrospective Museum of Modern Art, New York, under the auspices of the American Federation of Arts.



Mayor's Award, New York.



Opening in November of Motherwell gallery in perpetuity in the Bavarian State Gallery of Modern Art, Munich.



Writes foreword to Abstract Expressionist Painting by William C. Seitz, Harvard University Press.



Recipient of gold medal from Juan Carlos. General health begins to decline.



Enters Greenwich Hospital after suffering a stroke. Recuperates and enjoys an intense period

of painting in 1991.



Dies at the age of 76, on July 16th in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.