Oral history interview with Robert Motherwell
Portions of this collection are digitized

Collection ID:
Motherwell, Robert
Cummings, Paul
1971 Nov. 24-1974 May 1
Physical Description:
110 Pages

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
Interview of Robert Motherwell, conducted by Paul Cummings for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, at the artist's home in Greenwich, Connecticut November 24, 1971 - May 1, 1974.
Scope and Contents
Motherwell speaks of his relationship with his parents; attending prep school; studying philosophy at Stanford University and Harvard University; his theory of automatism; European and American painters in post-war New York; teaching at Black Mountain College; teaching at Hunter College; his retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art and other exhibitions; his collages with Gauloise cigarette packages; the photograph The Irascibles; his membership in American Abstract Artists; his marriage to Helen Frankenthaler; his use of color and light in his paintings; spending summers in Provincetown, MA; beginning printmaking; playing poker; working with the art dealers Kootz, Janis, and Frank Lloyd of Marlborough; his series Elegy for the Spanish Civil War, Je t'aime, Beside the Sea, Open, and Lyric Suite. Motherwell also recalls Peggy Guggenheim, Marcel Duchamp, Meyer Shapiro, Betty Parsons, Sam Kootz, Frank O'Hara, Clement Greenberg, Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, Ad Reinhardt, Richard Lippold, Tanya Grosman, and others.

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Robert Motherwell (1915-1991) was a painter and printmaker from New York, N.Y.

Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.
Existence and Location of Copies
Transcript is available on the Archives of American Art's website.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
These interviews are part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and others.

Originally recorded on 4 sound tape reels. Reformatted in 2010 as 8 digital wav files. Duration is 8 hrs., 9 min.

Digital Content

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Art, American Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painters -- New York (State) -- Interviews Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Printmakers -- New York (State) -- New York -- Interviews Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound recordings Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Interviews Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001