Mark Rothko – 25.9.1903 – 25.2.1970. Firstly, this is one artist who is sure to divide opinion. Heralded by some (including me) as a genius. By others, they fail to see what he is on about. He was born in Latvia in 1903. In around 1913, his family emigrated to the USA. As a result of this he inherited American nationality. He is best known for large, doom laden canvases which are chiefly orchestrated as large blocks of colour. So the colours merge into one another.
Working throughout the 1930s and 1940s, sometimes figuratively. After that, he didn’t hit upon his signature style until the late 1940s and early 1950s. His verticals never fail to fascinate or exacerbate in equal measure, for instance. In New York in the 1950s, abstract expressionism reigned supreme. Therefore, along with Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning he is one of the most recognisable of this genre. He didn’t paint in the same vein as the rest of the abstract expressionists. Subsequently towards the end of the 1950s, he veered towards the dark side.
Above all, his works were increasingly replete with obfuscation and hidden meaning. Sometimes the meaning was probably known only to himself. Red became a prominent colour choice. Symbolising blood perhaps? The paintings in the Rothko Chapel are bleak and uncompromising. Dark and mysterious they give us time to contemplate. Consequently, they force us to contemplate the cosmos.
During the 1950s, he famously rejected his commission for the Four Seasons restaurant in the Seagram Building in New York. So he decided to donate them to the Tate Gallery in the UK.
To sum up, his is now a very expensive artist to acquire works by. He was the classic “Tortured artist”. In short, he painted his own life, moreover, his own impending sense of death.
Moreover, he continued to focus on the expansive canvases almost up until his lonely suicide in 1970.
Birthplace – Dvinsk, Vitebsk Governorate, Russian Empire (now Daugavpils, Latvia)
Birth Name – Markus Yakovlevich Rothkowitz
Nom de Pinceau – Mark Rothko
Art Movement – Abstract Expressionism
Highest Auction Price (to date, adjusted, if possible) – US$ 192 Million (2014) – No. 6 (Violet, Green and Red) – 1951
ItL Rating (out of Five Stars) – ✪✪✪✪✪