(b Aberdeen, Wash., 24 Jan. 1915; d Provincetown, Mass., 16 July 1991). American painter, collagist, writer, editor, and teacher, one of the pioneers and principal exponents of Abstract Expressionism. He took up painting seriously in 1941 after studying philosophy at Stanford and Harvard universities and the erudite approach of his writings played a large part in setting the serious intellectual tone of the Abstract Expressionist movement. Motherwell was unusual among Abstract Expressionists in that his painting was essentially abstract from the beginning of his career. However, his work was deeply influenced by Surrealism (particularly in the use of automatism) and there is often a suggestion of figuration in the large amorphous shapes of his paintings.
Text source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)