More about Robert Motherwell
Robert Motherwell, the man who coined the name “The New York School,” was the rookie of the boys' club that was Abstract Expressionism.
He missed the boat of FDR's Works Progress Administration, which dedicated funds to the employment of artists to do public murals and things (among them Willam de Kooning, Arshile Gorky, Lee Krasner, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and a bajillion more). He was too busy studying at Stanford, Harvard and eventually Columbia. So when he got on the scene in New York he barely had any formal art training.
He was also kind of the catalyst that began Abstract Expressionism. The legend goes like this, according to Motherwell: “[Roberto] Matta wanted to start a revolution, a movement, within Surrealism. He asked me to find some other American artists that would help start a new movement. It was then that [William] Baziotes and I went to see [Jackson] Pollock and [William] de Kooning and [Hans] Hofmann… and several other people. Peggy Guggenheim who liked us said that she would put on a show of this new business… It sort of all began that way.” And just like that a movement was born - one that shifted the art scene hotspot from Europe to America.
You’ll notice that the founding members of Abstract Expressionism were pretty much all male, with the exception of a few very forceful women. Motherwell wasn’t super into women's art and tried his hardest not to acknowledge their work. Somehow he still married Helen Frankenthaler and they became the art world’s “golden couple.” The relationship didn’t last. Though Frankenthaler refused to discuss it, it would be easy to assume that it was because Motherwell was kind of a douche.
- Oral history interview with Robert Motherwell, 1971 Nov. 24-1974 May 1, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
- Reed, Susan and Jess Cagle. “With Her Greatest Works on Display, Helen Frankenthaler Paints a Quirky Portrait of the Artist – Vol. 32 No. 23.” December 4, 1989. Accessed January 25, 2017.
Here is what Wikipedia says about Robert Motherwell
Robert Motherwell (January 24, 1915 – July 16, 1991) was an American abstract expressionist painter, printmaker, and editor of The Dada Painters and Poets: an Anthology. He was one of the youngest of the New York School, which also included Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko.
Trained in philosophy, Motherwell then became an artist regarded as among the most articulate spokesmen and the founders of the abstract expressionist painters. He was known for his series of abstract paintings and prints which touched on political, philosophical and literary themes, such as the Elegies to the Spanish Republic.
Check out the full Wikipedia article about Robert Motherwell