(1903 - 1970)
Mark Rothko was active/lived in New York / Ukraine, Russian Federation. Mark Rothko is known for abstract expressionist painter, early surreal.
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Biography from the Archives of askART
Rothko was born Marcus Rothkowitz in 1903 in Dvinsk, Russia. His father
was a pharmacist. As a child he spoke Hebrew and Russian until he was
ten years old; in 1913 he and his two sisters, Anna and Sonia, came to
Portland, Oregon, where their parents had preceded them. They wore
labels explaining that they did not speak English; he enrolled in
Immigrant School. In 1921 he won a scholarship to Yale University; he
was one of three immigrant seniors to get into Yale. He planned on
becoming a labor leader. In 1923 he left Yale, moving to New York to
work as a bookkeeper for an uncle. Somewhere along the way he disavowed
his faith, struggling with a cultural identity developed against a
hostile backdrop of anti-Semitism.
Biography from the Archives of askART
In 1925 he began taking
life-drawing classes eventually studying at the Art Students League
with Max Weber. He was also much influenced by Milton Avery's simple
paintings and by the work of Matisse. In 1935 he co-founded "The Ten"
with Adolf Gottlieb; they were a group of artists who espoused
expressionist or emotive styles as opposed to abstract artists whose
work was removed from emotional content. In the late 1940s he taught at
the California School of Fine Arts and became a significant influence
for Abstract Expressionism on the West Coast.
During the 1930s
and 1940s he eked a life out of part-time teaching and the WPA artists'
work program. His first marriage to a fellow artist ended in a nervous
breakdown for Rothko and divorce. In 1944 he met his second wife, Mary
Alice (Mel) Beistle. They had two children, a daughter, Kate, and a
son, Christopher. He didn't make a living from his painting until the
mid-1960s. Then everything in his career seemed to flower.
works underwent a transition as time went on; they became larger and
larger in size and less figurative, brighter and deeper in color, until
they became rectangles of color in different configurations. Rothko
became more obsessive about his work: he disliked group shows and
usually declined to participate in them; he fussed about the lighting
of his paintings and the color of the walls on which they were hung; he
insisted that his paintings be hung in groups and not mixed with
canvases that were different in color and design. Unfortunately, he
bought some of his pigments in Woolworth's and didn't even know what
they were; as a result of this, as well as high levels of light, the
paintings and murals faded rapidly.
In spite of these
occurrences, Rothko's work was accepted and increased in value
considerably after his death. There was a famous legal battle over his
estate that lasted from 1971 to 1977. His children ended up with fewer
than one hundred of their father's works.
Rothko killed himself with a
razor and pills in 1970.
Written and submitted by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California.
From the Internet, www.AskART.com
Darkness Into Light by Peter Plagens in Newsweek Magazine, June 1, 1998
Rothko's Legacy: Transcript of the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, August 5, 1998
ARTnews magazine, March 1999
World Artists 1950-80 by Claude Marks
Art & Antiques Magazine, April 1994
Rediscovering Rothko by Sheldon Nodelman in Art in America magazine, July 1999
Time magazine, March 3, 1961
Born in Dvinsk, Russia with the name of Marcus Rothkovich, Mark Rothko
became a leading Abstract Expressionist painter, using the rectangle of
large-scale canvases for a one-color ground, visible along the edge and
through occasional openings, showing three or four horizontal blocks of
color with brushed surfaces and fuzzy borders.
Biography from the Archives of askART
He used thinned
oil paint in many layers, achieving the effect of watercolor which he
had used so often before. He created simple, flat shapes which, for
him, showed a relationship between primitive art and myths cast into
working through his own personal experiences. His work expressed drama
and violence, suggesting both serenity and conflict.
As a child,
Mark Rothko spoke Hebrew and Russian until he was ten years old, and in
1913, emigrated to Portland, Oregon with his two sisters. All wore
labels explaining they did not speak English, and he enrolled in
Immigrant School. Feeling much isolated, he created his own private
world of psychological space, and the exploration of that space became
In 1921, Rothko enrolled in Yale University, and
by that time was already receiving attention as an artist. In 1925, he
went to New York City where he studied at the Art Students League with
Max Weber. He was much influenced by Milton Avery, who made simple
paintings, and also by the work of Pierre Matisse.
In 1935, he
along with Adolf Gottlieb, co-founded "The Ten," artists that espoused
expressionist or emotive styles as opposed to abstract artists removed
from emotional content.
In the late 1940s, he taught at the
California School of Fine Arts and became a significant influence for
Abstract Expressionism on the West Coast. He also did mural work
including for New York restaurants, the Harvard University Holyoke
Center, and a set of fourteen religious panels in the Rothko Chapel for
the Texas Medical Center in Houston.
Early in his career, Rothko
painted isolated urban figures and then experimented with automatic
drawing, a surrealist technique to express personal feelings. Deeply
interested in the collective and individual unconscious, he studied
mythology, Freud, and Jung, seeking universal symbols. By the mid
1940s, horizontal bands appeared in his work, and then he discarded all
direct references to nature and worked with simplified shapes, color
gradations, and value relationships. In 1970, he committed suicide.
Matthew Baigell Dictionary of American Art
October 2004, a book titled The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art
was published by Yale University Press. Edited by the artist's son,
Christopher Rothko, who found the manuscript in 1988, it is the only
published writing by the artist and is the result of tedious work by
the son to create an organized manuscript from pages that were
"sloppily typed, with numerous hand-marked additions and deletions" . .
Biography from Hollis Taggart Galleries
At the time of his father's death, Christopher Rothko was six years
old, and editing the pages became a way of establishing a relationship
with a father whom he could barely remember. "It was a fascinating
process, In rediscovering the book, I rediscovered my father."
Phoebe Hoban, 'New Work By Rothko: A Book of Writings', The New York Times Arts section, 10/14/2004
Born in Dvinsk, Russia, Marcus Rothkowitz (he would begin using the name Mark Rothko in 1940) immigrated to Portland, Oregon, at the age of 10. An excellent student, he enrolled at Yale University, but he dropped out without completing his degree and moved to New York City. During the early 1920s he studied with modernist Max Weber at the Art Students League. Later in the decade, he became friends with Milton Avery, whom he regarded as a mentor.
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Throughout the 1930s, Rothko painted figuratively, often producing portraits or moody paintings depicting isolated city dwellers. In 1935, he and friend Adolph Gottlieb co-founded the Ten, a group of artists loosely connected by their expressionistic, emotional styles.
In 1947 Rothko began eliminating all references to the observed world from his paintings, and he stopped relying on the drawn, gestural line as a vehicle of expression. In a series of paintings created between 1947 and 1949, called "multiforms," Rothko covered surfaces with irregularly shaped patches of vivid color. Despite the absence of recognizable imagery, these multiforms shared with the preceding Surrealist pieces a sense of forms evolving or in flux.
For the balance of his career, Rothko limited his formal concerns to subtle variations of color, texture, and rectangular shape. These large-scale paintings achieved the transcendent universality to which Rothko had long aspired. He preferred to present his work in environments like chapels, where viewers could become wholly absorbed in the experience.
Internationally acclaimed but depressed and physically weak, Mark Rothko committed suicide in 1970.
© Copyright 2008 Hollis Taggart Galleries
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