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Robert Motherwell
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Artist
    (January 24, 1915-July 16, 1991)
    Born in Aberdeen, Washington
    Abstract Expressionist painter
    Works include the 'Elegy to the Spanish Republic' series (over 140 paintings, 1948-67), the 'Je T'aime' series (1954-58) and the 'Open' series (1967-69)
    Received the National Medal of the Arts (1989)
    At 11, he won a scholarship to the Los Angeles Art Institute, but he dropped out when they would not let him paint nudes.
    He said, 'I became a permanently arrested adolescent for years because I didn't want to grow up.'
    He was married four times, divorced three times.
    The black ovals in his 'Elegy to the Spanish Republic' paintings were inspired by Spanish matadors displaying a dead bull's testicles. (So if you ever thought modern art was bollocks, you may not have been too far off.)
    He recalled, 'My mother was a hysteric and used to beat me terribly as a child until the blood ran out of my head.'
    Unlike many of his fellow Abstract Expressionists, he acknowledged his debt to past artists: 'One cannot wipe the historical slate clean.'
    He was commissioned to paint a mural for a new wing of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC (1977).
    He also taught at Hunter College, with one student saying 'Three sentences from him regarding a painting was worth a semester from any other teacher.'

Credit: C. Fishel


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