Mark Rothko was born Marcus Rothkowitz in Russia on September 25, 1903. His family immigrated (who knows what that means?) to the United States when he was ten years old, and settled in Portland, Oregon.
Rothko attended Yale University in 1921, where he studied English, French, European history, elementary mathematics, physics, biology, economics, the history of philosophy, and general psychology. He originally wanted to become an engineer or a lawyer. Rothko gave up his studies in the fall of 1923 and moved to New York City.
He began painting in the 1930’s and painted realistic images. show pictures
Then he began to paint with other artists in NYC in the 1940’s who were considered abstract artists (like Jackson Pollock). During a career that spanned five decades, he created a new form of abstract painting. (Who knows what “abstract” means?)
He was sometimes called an abstract expressionist, although he himself hated that word didn’t even like being called an "abstract painter"
He began to paint in what came to be his signature style…multiforms. He painted in Long Island (also the home to Pollock).
For the next several years, Rothko painted in oil only on large canvases with vertical formats. (Who can show me what “vertical” means?) Very large-scale designs were used in order to overwhelm the viewer, or, in Rothko’s words, to make the viewer feel like they had become part of the painting. He even went so far as to recommend that a viewer position themselves as little as 18 inches away from the canvas so that the viewer might experience a sense of closeness and become one with the picture.
For some critics, they said the large size was an attempt to make up for a lack of substance. (Who can tell me what a “critic” is?)
He thought that most artists began with drawing. He thought the most important part of the painting is color. “Color” is always the first word used when describing Rothko’s paintings.
In 1949, Rothko became fascinated by Matisse’s Red Studio. He later credited it as a key source of inspiration for his later abstract paintings. show painting
In 1957 Rothko came to Cape Cod and spent the next several summers on Cape Cod in Provincetown with his family and painted with other artists here. He refused however to paint landscapes or pictures of the ocean. (What is a “landscape”?) Show pictures of family.
During those summers, he began to paint using much darker colors and painted “horizontal” compositions. (Who can show me what “horizontal” is?)
In 1958 he was commissioned (which means he was paid to create paintings) for the Four Seasons restaurant in NYC in the Seagram’s Building. It was to be a very fancy place for rich people to go to. He became annoyed with the project when he found out that his paintings were going to be hung in the restaurant not in the hobby. He later said, “I hope to paint something that will ruin the appetite of every [person] who ever eats in that room.”
He began to become very successful and became uncomfortable with his fame. He became depressed and his health worsened. He died on Feb 25, 1970.
In early November, 2005, Rothko's 1953 oil on canvas painting, Homage to Matisse, broke the record selling price of any post-war painting at a public auction, at $22.5 million.
In May 2007, Rothko's 1950 painting White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose), broke this record again, selling at $72.8 million. It is one of the most expensive paintings ever sold!
Red, a play based on Rothko, The play centers around the period of development of the Seagram Murals. On June 13, 2010, it received six Tony awards, including Best Play. The run concluded on June 27, 2010.