Mark Rothko

American, born Russia

1903, Dvinsk, Russia [now Daugavpils, Latvia]
1970, New York City, New York


Mark Rothko was born Marcus Rothkowitz; his family emigrated in 1913 and settled in Portland, Oregon. Rothko attended Yale for two years and moved to New York in 1923.

After a long period of stylistic experimentation, Rothko was prompted toward abstraction by the arrival of European avant-gardists during World War II. His mature works consist of two or three diffuse rectangles of saturated color. Their effect is one of luminosity and floating in an indefinable space. Rothko often worked on a large scale, seeking to envelop the viewer in an experience of intimacy and spiritual transcendence.

In 1964, he began his paintings for the Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas. In 1970, after battling depression, alcoholism, and poor health, Rothko committed suicide in his studio. The chapel was completed the following year.

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