- NAME: Mark Rothko
- OCCUPATION: Painter
- BIRTH DATE: September 25, 1903
- DEATH DATE: February 25, 1970
- EDUCATION: Yale University, Lincoln High School, Art Students League
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Dvinsk, Russia (now Daugavpils, Latvia), Latvia
- PLACE OF DEATH: New York, New York
- AKA: Mark Rothkowitz
- Full Name: Marcus Rothkowitz
- AKA: Mark Rothko
- AKA: Marcus Rothkovitch
- AKA: Marcus Rothkovich
Best Known For
Marc Rothko is best known as one of the central figures of the Abstract Expressionist movement in American art in the 1950s and '60s.
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Mark Rothko was born Marcus Rothkowitz in Dvinsk, Russia (now Daugavpils, Latvia), on September 25, 1903, and immigrated to the United States with his family in his youth. In the mid-20th century, he belonged to a circle of New York-based artists (also including Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock) who became known as the Abstract Expressionists. His signature works, large-scale paintings of luminous colored rectangles,
"A picture lives by companionship, expanding and quickening in the eyes of the sensitive viewer."
"Only tragic and timeless subject matter is worthy of painting."
used simplified means to evoke emotional responses. Rothko committed suicide on February 25, 1970.
Mark Rothko was born Marcus Rothkowitz in Dvinsk, Russia (now Daugavpils, Latvia), on September 25, 1903. He was the fourth child of Jacob Rothkowitz, a pharmacist by trade, and Anna (née Goldin) Rothkowitz. The family immigrated to the United States when Rothko was 10 years old, resettling in Portland, Oregon.
Rothko excelled at academics and graduated from Portland's Lincoln High School in 1921. He attended Yale University, studying both the liberal arts and the sciences until he left without graduating in 1923. He then moved to New York City and studied briefly at the Art Students League. In 1929 Rothko started teaching at the Center Academy of the Brooklyn Jewish Center.
In 1933, Rothko's art was shown in one-person exhibitions at the Museum of Art in Portland and the Contemporary Arts Gallery in New York. During the 1930s, Rothko also exhibited with a group of modern artists who called themselves "The Ten," and he worked on federally sponsored arts projects for the Works Progress Administration.
In the 1940s, Rothko's artistic subjects and style began to change. Earlier, he had been painting scenes of urban life with a sense of isolation and mystery; after World War II, he turned to timeless themes of death and survival, and to concepts drawn from ancient myths and religions. Rather than depicting the everyday world, he began to paint "biomorphic" forms that suggested otherworldly plants and creatures. He was also influenced by the art and ideas of Surrealists like Max Ernst and Joan Miró.
In 1943, Rothko and fellow artist Adolph Gottlieb wrote a manifesto of their artistic beliefs, such as "Art is an adventure into an unknown world" and "We favor the simple expression of the complex thought." Rothko and Gottlieb, along with Jackson Pollock, Clyfford Still, Willem de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler, Barnett Newman and others, became known as the Abstract Expressionists. Their art was abstract, meaning that it had made no reference to the material world, yet it was highly expressive, conveying strong emotional content.
By the 1950s, Rothko's art was completely abstract. He even preferred to number his canvases, rather than giving them descriptive titles. He had arrived at his signature style: working on a large, vertical canvas, he painted several colored rectangles of color floating against a colored background. Within this formula he found endless variations of color and proportion, resulting in different moods and effects.
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