Motherwell enters Columbia University's graduate program in the Department of Art History and Archaeology and takes an apartment in the Rhinelander Gardens on West Eleventh Street. With Meyer Schapiro he studies Romanesque Sculpture and Painting and European Painting since 1860, and takes courses with Millard Meiss, Julius Held, Margarete Bieber and William Dinsmore.
Motherwell continues to paint and frequently solicits Schapiro's advice about his works. Schapiro, understanding that Motherwell is clearly more interested in being an artist than in his academic studies, arranges for him to study with the Swiss surrealist Kurt Seligmann. In late November, Motherwell begins lessons with Seligmann, and will see him twice a week through May 1941. In Seligmann's studio he makes his first etchings.