Abstract expressionist Robert Motherwell dies at 76Robert...


Abstract expressionist Robert Motherwell dies at 76

Robert Motherwell, whose sometimes stark, sometimes brilliant canvases made him a dominant and ongoing presence in the world of abstract expressionism, has died.

Joan Banach, Mr. Motherwell's curator, said yesterday that he had suffered a stroke Tuesday at his summer home in Provincetown, Mass., and died en route to a hospital. He was 76.

Perhaps his best-known work, the series "Elegy to the Spanish Republic No. 134," brought $880,000 at auction in New York in May 1989.

The series, which Mr. Motherwell painted over a 30-year period, used dark, grotesque forms to suggest theend of Spanish liberty under Gen. Francisco Franco.

Another of Mr. Motherwell's elegies, a mural depicting the assassination of John F. Kennedy, was labeled "an outrage" and "hideous" by Boston critics when it was unveiled there in 1966.

The artist, however, defended it not as a concept of death but "an expression of grief for someone dead, like a requiem Mass."

Mr. Motherwell was born in Aberdeen, Wash., earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Stanford University in 1937 and then did graduate work at Harvard, the University of Grenoble in France and Columbia University.

After traveling in Europe, he settled in New York.

Using brilliant colors and odd shapes to convey his inner feelings, Mr. Motherwell drew on Cubists and Surrealists for his earliest inspirations.

Primarily self-taught, he created ambitious collages and austere abstractions devoted to such disparate subjects as Spanish prisons or children's toys in the early 1940s.

As the 1940s ended, Mr. Motherwell expanded from the little, satirical paintings he had been fashioning, to large canvases.

In a 1984 interview in The New York Times, Mr. Motherwell said that he was "groping for a way for synthesizing a lifetime of work -- driving further what I find mostvaluable and dropping parts that seem less essential."

He was considered unique among the New York School of Abstract Expressionists for his ability to change with the times and still be relevant.

Mr. Motherwell also became known for his writings about art, which appeared in publications like the New Republic and Art News. He taught art for many years at Hunter College in New York.

The curator said that Mr. Motherwell's home in Greenwich, Conn., will be turned into a private museum and that many of his works will be donated to public institutions throughout the world. He is survived by his wife, Renate; two daughters; and one grandchild.

Services for Frances Belknap Wells, a retired U.S. Army nurse, will be held at 11:30 a.m. today at St. David's Episcopal Church, 4700 Roland Ave.

Mrs. Wells, who was 71, died from the effects of a stroke on Sunday at the Charlotte Hall Veteran's Home in Charlotte Hall.

Born in Baltimore, the former Frances Belknap graduated from Garrison Forest School in Baltimore and became a registered nurse after graduating from the Women's Hospital School of Nursing in 1941.

She served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Nursing Corps during World War II and was stationed at the 142nd General Hospital unit in the Fiji Islands. She retired from the Army because of illness a few years after the war ended but held nursing jobs in private hospitals later.

Married during the war, she eventually left nursing to devote more time to her family. After her marriage ended in divorce, she became active in Alcoholics Anonymous.

Her second husband, James L. Wells, whom she married in the early 1970s, died from heart failure in 1986.

Mrs. Wells also loved to knit and do arts and crafts.

She is survived by two sons, J. Robert Lucas of York County, Va., and James B. Lucas of Seattle, Wash.; a daughter, Nora L. Miller of Anchorage, Ala.; two sisters, Louise B. Keeling and Elizabeth B. Green, both of Baltimore; and four grandchildren.

Pearl M. Marburger

Former receptionist

Graveside services for Pearl M. Marburger will be held at 1a.m. tomorrow at Lorraine Park Cemetery, 5608 Dogwood Road.

Mrs. Marburger, who was 80 and known as "Patti," died Monday of cancer at her home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

She spent many summers in Ocean City, beginning in 1978 after her marriage to Thomas E. Marburger, retired vice president for engineering and construction at the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.

The former Pearl M. Seniff was a native of South Bend, Ind. She had worked as a receptionist in an insurance office and, after moving to Florida in 1963, in a bank.

Her first husband, William Sundine, died in 1975.

In addition to Mr. Marburger, her survivors include a daughter, BettyAnn Umbach of Fort Lauderdale, and a brother, Joe C. Seniff of Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Virginia I. Civiletti


A Mass of Christian burial for Virginia I. Civiletti, who had been active in businesses in several cities in New York, will be offered at 11:30 a.m. today at St. Pius X Roman Catholic Church, 6428 York Road.

Mrs. Civiletti, who was 73, died Tuesday of cancer at Greater Baltimore Medical Center.

She and her husband, Benjamin C. Civiletti, moved to Rodgers Forge in 1978, after her retirement.

She had been a real estate broker in Lake Mahopac, N.Y., since the late 1960s. Earlier, she was an executive secretary and administrative assistant at Croton Watch Co. in Croton, N.Y.

During World War II, the former Virginia Muller, a native of NeYork City, was a supervisor in a munitions factory, winning two awards for suggestions.

A son, former U.S. Attorney General Benjamin R. Civiletti of Monkton, is managing partner of the law firm Venable, Baetjer and Howard.

In addition to her son and husband, she is survived by a daughter, Pamela C. Liebowitz of Simi Valley, Calif.; five grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

The family suggested memorial contributions to the American Cancer Society.

H. M. Warrington Sr.

Retired IRS official

A memorial service for Harold M. Warrington Sr., a retired Internal Revenue Service official, will be held at 2:30 p.m. today at Sexton United Methodist Church, 1721 Sexton St.

Mr. Warrington, who was 86, died July 4 of heart failure at the home of a grandson in Fresno, Calif. He moved from Baltimore to Long Beach, Calif., 10 years ago and to Fresno a year ago.

He retired in 1970 as chief of the special services section of the IRS in Washington, handling returns from U.S. businesses overseas. He worked for the IRS for 30 years while maintaining his home in Baltimore.

Mr. Warrington, who was born in Baltimore and graduated from Polytechnic Institute, was an architectural draftsman and an accountant before joining the IRS.

An adult leader in the Boy Scouts for 64 years, he was a district commissioner in Baltimore and in California and received the Silver BeaverAward.

He had been a member of Sexton United Methodist Church and Bible study groups in Baltimore.

His wife, the former Catherine DeBaufree, died in 1988.

He is survived by a son, Harold M. Warrington Jr. of Long Beach; five grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren.

Anna Belle Moser

Former crossing guard

Graveside services for Anna Belle Moser, a retired crossing guard and a volunteer reading tutor at the Northwood Elementary School, will be held at 1 p.m. today at Western Cemetery, Edmondson Avenue and Longwood Street.

Mrs. Moser, who was 79 and moved to Boise, Idaho, from Baltimore four years ago, died Monday at the home of a daughter after a long illness.

She retired nearly 20 years ago after working as a crossing guard at the Northwood school for 18 years and serving for 10 of those years as a volunteer reading tutor at the school as well.

In addition, she served on the board of trustees and as a Sunday school teacher at the Loch Raven United Methodist Church.

A native of Warrenton, Va., the former Anne Belle Riley was a graduate of the nearby Brandy HighSchool before coming to Baltimore in the early 1930s and working as a nurse's aide until her marriage in 1937 to John Henry Moser. Mr. Moser, who was a glazier for a glass company, died in 1958.

She is survived by two daughters, Lois Anne Riebau and Linda Lou Moser, both of Boise; five sisters; two grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Jesse Lee Hall

Retired auto mechanic

Services for Jesse Lee Hall, a re tired automobile mechanic, will be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Fulton.

Mr. Hall, who was 88 and lived in Clarksville, died Monday at the Lorien Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Columbia after a stroke in January.

He retired more than 20 years ago from Hall Chevrolet, a family-owned business in Clarksville, where he worked for many years.

For more than 10 years in the 1940s and 1950s, he left the !B automobile dealership and was a partner in a Scaggsville farm machinery business, Hall & Wallich.

His wife, the former Blanche Walter, died in 1989.

He is survived by a son, George E. Hall of Riva; a daughter, Marie Holtzman of Clarksville; and three grandchildren.

Richard Bauer Jr.

Diesel mechanic

Services for Richard G. Bauer Jr., a diesel mechanic, will be held at 2 p.m. today at the Newnam Funeral Home in Easton.

Mr. Bauer, who was 34 and lived in Centreville, died Monday at the Memorial Hospital in Easton of a gastrointestinal hemorrhage.

Known as "Bunky," he was born in Baltimore, reared in Carmichael and educated at the Queen Anne's County High School.

After high school, he moved to the Baltimore area and worked as a diesel mechanic at Bauer Trucking Co. In 1989, he moved back to the Eastern Shore and worked as a mechanic for Norris E. Taylor Contractors.

He is survived by his father, Richard G. Bauer Sr. of Federalsburg, and his mother, Betty June Williams Miles of Centreville; two brothers, F. John Bauer of Eastpoint and Thomas D. Bauer of Centreville; a sister, Jaclyn B. Horney of Easton; a half-brother, Matthew E. Bauer of Federalsburg; a half-sister, Jennifer L. Bauer of Federalsburg; and two stepbrothers, C. Benjamin Fluharty of Easton and Christopher L. Fluharty of Dundalk.

Mary M. Kerr

Department head

Services for Mary M. Kerr, who retired as head of the filing department of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, will be held at 1 p.m. today at the J. Willis Wells Funeral Home in Rock Hall.

Mrs. Kerr, who was 84, died Monday at her home in Rock Hall after a heart attack.

She moved to Rock Hall from Baltimore after her retirement in 1966 from the railroad, where she had worked for many years.

The former Mary May was a native of Baltimore and a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University.

Her husband, J. Kenneth Kerr, a retired insurance agent, died in 1985.

She is survived by a brother, Frederick J. May of Mays Landing, N.J.

Copyright © 2020, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad