Robert Motherwell was deeply committed to the principles of 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 what was originally known as the Motherwell Foundation in 1981, its purpose was stated as follows: “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, the year of his death, Motherwell had the name of the Foundation changed to the Dedalus Foundation, after James Joyce’s alter-ego Stephen Dedalus, an archetypal artist (who was himself meant to recall the great fabricator Daedalus of Greek mythology). Renaming the Foundation in this way was an indication of the broad scope Motherwell envisioned for its activities. He was not only a great artist but also one of the major cultural figures of his time. He wanted his foundation to be dedicated to modern art and modernism conceived in the broadest possible way, as well as to his own work.
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