Rothko, Mark

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Rothko, Mark

Mark Rothko (rŏth´kō), 1903–70, American painter, b. Russia. Rothko emigrated to the United States in 1913. He was a student of Max Weber, then came under the influence of the surrealists. In the mid-1940s Rothko experimented with abstraction, arranging intense colors in irregular shapes. Soon he became a leading exponent of a uniquely meditative and personal strain within the larger movement of abstract expressionism. His later works (e.g., No. 10, 1950; Mus. of Modern Art, New York City) frequently consist of floating rectangles of luminous color on enormous canvases that manage to simultaneously convey a deep sensuality and a profound spirituality. Rothko's images to some degree presaged some of the techniques of the later color-field painting. He collaborated with the architect Philip Johnson on the design of a chapel in Houston in the mid-1960s. Rothko committed suicide.

See his The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art (2004), ed. by his son, Christopher Rothko; biography by J. E. B. Breslin (1993); D. Anfam, Mark Rothko: the Works on Canvas: Catalogue Raisonné (1998); P. Selz, Mark Rothko (1972); L. Seldes, The Legacy of Mark Rothko (1978, repr. 1996); D. Ashton, About Rothko (1983, repr. 1996); A. C. Chave, Mark Rothko: Subjects in Abstraction (1989); M. Glimcher, ed., The Art of Mark Rothko (1991); D. Waldman, Mark Rothko in New York (1994); S. Nadelman, The Rothko Chapel Paintings (1996); L. Seldes, The Legacy of Mark Rothko (1996), J. S. Weiss et al., Mark Rothko (1998); K. Ottmann, The Essential Mark Rothko (2003).

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