Mark Rothko

Mark Rothko (rŏth´kō), 1903–70, American painter, b. Dvinsk, Russia (now Daugavpils, Latvia), as Marcus Rotkovitch. His family immigrated 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 convey simultaneously 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 (1940, pub. 2004; ed. by his son, C. Rothko), and his Writings on Art (1934–69, pub. 2006; ed. by M. Lopez-Remiro); D. Anfam, Mark Rothko: The Works on Canvas: Catalogue Raisonné (1998); biographies by J. E. B. Breslin (1993) and A. Cohen-Solal (2015); 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); C. Rothko, his son, Mark Rothko: From the Inside Out (2015).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2017, The Columbia University Press.

Mark Rothko: Selected full-text books and articles

Mark Rothko By Peter Selz Doubleday, 1961
On Modern American Art: Selected Essays By Robert Rosenblum Harry N. Abrams Publishers, 1999
Librarian's tip: "Rothko's Surrealist Years" begins on p. 100, "Rothko and Tradition" begins on p. 109, and "My Life with Rothko" begin on p. 122
The Triumph of American Painting: A History of Abstract Expressionism By Irving Sandler Harper & Row, 1976
Librarian's tip: Chap. 13 "Mark Rothko"
Embattled Critic: Views on Modern Art By John Canaday Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, 1962
Librarian's tip: "Renunciation as Esthetics: Mark Rothko" begins on p. 141
Rothko: Emotion in the Abstract By May, Stephen The World and I, Vol. 13, No. 7, July 1998
Rothko's Material Beauty By Danto, Arthur C The Nation, Vol. 267, No. 21, December 21, 1998
Modern Painting: Contemporary Trends By Nello Ponente Skira, 1960
Librarian's tip: Chap. 8 "Jackson Pollock, Mark Tobey, Sam Francis, Bradley Walker Tomlin, Mark Rothko"
Isn't It Romantic? By Rosenblum, Robert Artforum International, Vol. 36, No. 9, May 1998
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