In 1948, Robert Motherwell, together with other leading exponents of Abstract Expressionism, founded the Subjects of the Artist School. This year, Robert Motherwell, began to work with his celebrated Elegy to the Spanish Republic theme, which he continued to develop throughout his life. Robert Motherwell intended his Elegies to the Spanish Republic as a "lamentation or funeral song" after the Spanish Civil War. His recurring motif here is vertical ovals and rectangles, repeated in varying sizes and degrees of compression and distortion. Throughout the 1950's, he also taught painting at Hunter College in New York and at Black Mountain College in North Carolina. Continuing to exhibit extensively in the United States and abroad, at this time, he was also a prolific writer and lecturer.
A Motherwell exhibition took place at the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, the Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts, Vienna, and the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 1976–77. He was given important solo exhibitions at the Royal Academy, London, and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., in 1978. A retrospective of his works organized by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, traveled in the United States from 1983 to 1985. From 1971, the artist lived and worked in Greenwich, Connecticut. He died July 16, 1991, in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
"I belong... to a family of 'black' painters and earth color painters in masses, which would include Manet and Goya and Matisse." Robert Motherwell
According to Robert Motherwell, there were no concrete answers, only questions, discussions and conflicts. 'The Elegies to the Spanish Republic' series was a career-spanning group of over 140 works for which the artist is perhaps best known. The collection was prompted by the Spanish Civil War, an event that moved him deeply. The paintings use the tragedy of the war as a metaphor for all human suffering. With their stark black and white palette, gestural brushwork, and tense relationships between ovid and rectilinear forms, they attempt to symbolically represent the human cycles of life and death, oppression and resistance.