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Lise Motherwell: Lessons Learned from Robert and Helen

Lise Motherwell: Lessons Learned from Robert and Helen


Introduction to Lise Motherwell. 2:15 min. Interview: Raymond Elman.  Post-Production: Lee Skye. Music:  Carmen Cicero. Provincetown Art Association & Museum. August, 2016.


Editor’s Note:  I first met Lise Motherwell and her slightly older sister Jeannie when they were teenagers in Provincetown.  During an exhibition of my portraits at the Provincetown Art Association & Museum in 2016, I had the opportunity to record a video conversation with Lise about her iconic father, artist Robert Motherwell, and his equally iconic wife, Helen Frankenthaler.


LISE MOTHERWELL, PhD, PsyD is a retired licensed psychologist and President of the Board of Trustees of the Provincetown Art Association & Museum (the original PAAM). Prior to becoming a clinician, she earned a PhD in Learning and Epistemology from MIT’s Media Lab where she studied learning styles and gender differences in how children interact with computers. Her clinical specialties included child, family, individual assessment and treatment, and a specialization in group therapy. Her interests lie in meaning-making and in the intersection between creativity, play, self-reflection, social connection and art.

Lise Motherwell spent her formative years in a household of artists: her father, Robert Motherwell, her stepmother Helen Frankenthaler, and her sister, Jeannie Motherwell. Surrounded by numerous creative minds and immersed in the New York art world, she developed a passion for travel, art history and museums. Prior to retirement as a psychologist, she earned a Certificate in Arts Administration from BU. In 2012, Lise co-curated with Daniel Ranalli Beside the Sea, an exhibition of her father’s work and in 2018, co-curated with Elizabeth Smith a show of Helen Frankenthaler’s work titled Abstract Climates: Helen Frankenthaler in Provincetown at PAAM, which traveled to the Parrish Museum in 2019. She has written articles and essays on various artists, including Helen Frankenthaler, Anne-Marie Levine, Robert Motherwell, and Tabitha Vevers. Along with her board work at PAAM, she serves as Chair of the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation Board and is a past-president of the board of the Northeastern Society for Group Psychotherapy Foundation.

— Provincetown Art Association & Museum


The videos below are organized by Success Factor, and run between one minute and two minutes. Click on any video. You must be connected to the Internet to view the videos.


INSIGHT & INSPIRATION:    1:52 min.  

In 1958, when you were four years old, your father married artist Helen Frankenthaler.  What did you learn from your exposure to the interactions of a man and a woman at the heights of their careers?


EMPATHY:   1:40 min.  

Where did poker fit into your father’s life?



Back in the 1970s, your father visited my Provincetown studio and told me that he would not have visited me in Manhattan