Van Gogh •
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Robert Motherwell was born in Aberdeen, Wisconsin. He attended the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles from 1926 to 1927 and pursued his studies at Stanford University, where he got his degree in 1936.
At Harvard he studied towards a degree in philosophy, but continued this work in France during 1938 and 1939. During the Second World War he studied at Columbia University in New York and came to know the expatriate Surrealists at work there. He participated in a Surrealist exhibition in 1942. Over the next decade his career was divided between developing strength as an artist and as a critic. With Rothko and Baziotes, he founded an art school in 1948 called "The Subjects of the Artist," a short-lived institution that was crucial in the development of lyrical abstraction in American painting.
Motherwell's work occupies a place between the experimental painting of the European Surrealist and Dada schools and the more vibrant work of Abstract Expressionism in America. In 1953 he married the painter Helen Frankenthaler, and in the following year began his most famous series, "Elegies for the Spanish Republic." After 1960 his work showed a greater economy of means; he abandoned expressionist elements in favor of a cooler, more elegant style. His last works are large color-field abstractions and silk-screen collages.