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To serve the public interest by endeavoring to foster, cultivate, develop, and support public understanding and appreciation of the principles of modern art expressed through the theories of modernism as expressed in the works and writings of Robert Motherwell and other artists.” 
Robert Motherwell
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Mission

Robert Motherwell was deeply committed to Modernism, which he once described as the creation of “shaped meaning, without which no life is worth living.” One of the tasks of modern art, he said, “was to find a language that would be closer to the structure of the human mind . . . could more adequately reflect the nature of our understanding of how things really are.”

When he created the Motherwell Foundation in 1981, its stated purpose was “To serve the public interest by endeavoring to foster, cultivate, develop, and support public understanding and appreciation of the principles of modern art expressed through the theories of modernism as expressed in the works and writings of Robert Motherwell and other artists.” In 1991, Motherwell changed the name of the Foundation to the Dedalus Foundation, after James Joyce’s alter-ego Stephen Dedalus, an archetypal artist who himself conjured Daedalus, the great fabricator in Greek mythology. Thus renaming his Foundation was an indication of the broad scope Motherwell envisioned for its activities.

The Dedalus Foundation has fulfilled Motherwell’s vision through its programs in five main areas: Motherwell Legacy; Arts Education; Research and Publication; Archives and Conservation; Exhibition and Curatorial Projects. The Foundation operates some of its projects in collaboration with other not-for-profit institutions.

Motherwell bequeathed to the Foundation his art works, his archives, and the copyrights to all of his art and writings. The Foundation has honored Motherwell’s legacy by caring for the works in its possession and by publishing catalogues raisonnés of his prints (2003), paintings and collages (2012), and drawings (2022).

The Dedalus Foundation is constantly enhancing and adapting its programs to changing conditions and is widely recognized as one of the leading artist-endowed foundations in the United States.

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Ethos

Modernism

For Motherwell, modernism involved understanding and having the courage to face reality in all its complexity and with all its contradictions.

Internationalism

Motherwell believed that art was universal and gave tangible form to the depth and vitality of the human spirit. Throughout his career he was open to inspiration from European, Asian, and African art and he personally interacted with artists from all over the world.

Abstraction

For Motherwell, abstract art involved creating visual equivalents for deep feelings and states of being, through intensification and compression.

Free Association / Psychic Automatism

Throughout his adventure as an artist, Motherwell was committed to “psychic automatism,” which involved the free and spontaneous movement of the hand, and which he used to tap into his deepest thoughts and impulses and to invent new forms.

Shaped Meaning

Motherwell believed that art involved what he called “shaped meaning, without which no life is worth living.” Modern artists had to invent their own pictorial languages, and thus had the problem of both invention and elaboration. Motherwell’s works show how profound and varied the vocabulary of modern painting can be.

Aesthetics and ethics

Motherwell believed that all aesthetic decisions were essentially ethical, that the aesthetic and ethical aspects of a work of art were inseparable.

FAQS
Robert Motherwell created the Dedalus Foundation to ensure that things that mattered to him would continue beyond his lifetime – such as modernism, visual literacy, arts education, scholarship, and the stewardship of his work.
The Foundation has extensive educational programs, offers scholarships and fellowships to a broad range of people – from high school students to established scholars – and supports publishing and exhibition projects related to modern art and modernism.
Before his death, Motherwell changed the name of the Foundation from the Robert Motherwell Foundation to the Dedalus Foundation. This change emphasizes his wish that the Foundation would engage in a broad range of activities that go beyond his own artistic legacy. Motherwell was a great admirer of James Joyce, and the new name refers to Joyce’s alter-ego, Stephen Dedalus, who himself recalled the great fabricator Daedalus of Greek mythology.
During COVID, visits are severely limited only to arts professionals who have made advance arrangements.
The nomination processes for the various fellowships differ. Instructions can be found under Fellowships on this website.
Please send your query to info@dedalusfoundation.org.
Licensing of images is done through Artists Rights Society (ARS, New York): https://arsny.com