Mark Rothko
1903–1970

Introduction

Mark Rothko (IPA: ), Markus Yakovlevich Rothkowitz until 1940; September 25, 1903 – February 25, 1970), was an American abstract painter. He is best known for his color field paintings that depicted irregular and painterly rectangular regions of color, which he produced from 1949 to 1970. Although Rothko did not personally subscribe to any one school, he is associated with the American abstract expressionism movement of modern art.

Originally emigrating to Portland, Oregon, from Dvinsk in the Russian Empire (now Latvia) with his family, Rothko later moved to New York City where his youthful period of artistic production dealt primarily with urban scenery. In response to World War II, Rothko's art entered a transitional phase during the 1940s, where he experimented with mythological themes and Surrealism to express tragedy. Toward the end of the decade, Rothko painted canvases with regions of pure color which he further abstracted into rectangular color forms, the idiom he would use for the rest of his life.

In his later career, Rothko executed several canvases for three different mural projects. The Seagram murals were to have decorated the Four Seasons Restaurant in the Seagram Building, but Rothko eventually grew disgusted with the idea that his paintings would be decorative objects for wealthy diners and refunded the lucrative commission, donating the paintings to museums including the Tate Gallery. The Harvard Mural series was donated to a dining room in Harvard's Holyoke Center (now Smith Campus Center); their colors faded badly over time due to Rothko's use of the pigment lithol red together with regular sunlight exposure. The Harvard series has since been restored using a special lighting technique. Rothko contributed 14 canvases to a permanent installation at the Rothko Chapel, a non-denominational chapel in Houston, Texas.

Although Rothko lived modestly for much of his life, the resale value of his paintings grew tremendously in the decades following his suicide in 1970. His painting No. 6 (Violet, Green and Red) sold in 2014 for $186 million.

Wikidata identifier

Q160149

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Introduction

Noted as one of the primary artists of Abstract Expressionism and color field painting. Rothko moved to Portland in 1913. He attended Yale University for two years before moving to New York in 1925, where he attended the Art Students League and studied under Max Weber. He was a founding member of a group of abstract painters called Ten. In 1936, Rothko worked with the WPA Federal Art Project in the easel painting division. In 1945, he had a solo show in Peggy Guggenheim's Art of This Century gallery in New York. He also taught at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco with Clyfford Still. Rothko finished his first commission in 1958, a monumental painting for the Four Seasons restaurant in New York. He also painted murals for Harvard University and a chapel in Houston, which was dedicated to him after his death. Rothko committed suicide on February 25, 1970, in New York.

Country of birth

Latvia

Roles

Artist, abstract artist, painter

ULAN identifier

500014869

Names

Mark Rothko, マーク・ロスコ

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Information from the Getty Research Institute's Union List of Artist Names ® (ULAN), made available under the ODC Attribution License. Accessed May 11, 2024.