Robert Motherwell played a major role in the history of modern American painting. He was the youngest and most prolific of the group of artists based in New York and an innovator of Abstract Expressionism. Motherwell was a philosophy graduate of Stanford and Harvard, but his interests were in art. He traveled to Europe and returned to New York to study under the art historian Meyer Shapiro. He decided to devote his time to painting. After only a few years, he became one of the leading figures in the Abstract Expressionism. Motherwell began experimenting with lithography techniques at Atelier 17, a printing studio for promising artist in that day. He created the well-known Elegy series of prints. This series exemplifies his use of abstract form and gesture as a means of communicating emotion and thought. Motherwell’s extensive use of black dominated his paintings and prints. In his own words, he would "use black massively as a color form rather than an absence of color".