Born in Aberdeen, Washington, Robert Motherwell, studied at Stanford, Harvard, and Columbia University. He also studied engraving with Stanley William Hayter at Atelier 17 in New York. He was elected as a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters, and as a Special Adviserto the National Council on the Arts in Washington, D.C. He received the National Medal of Art in 1998.
The youngest of the Abstract Expressionists, Motherwell had a long career and was an extremely prolific painter, collagist, and printmaker. He came to abstraction via his academic studies of philosophy and continued his intellectual pursuits throughout his lifetime. Some of his most striking images consist of simple calligraphic strokes made with a paintbrush or printmaking tool.