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The Art Story Homepage Artists Mark Rothko
Mark Rothko Photo

Mark Rothko

American Painter

Movements and Styles: Abstract Expressionism, Surrealism, Color Field Painting, The Sublime in Art

Born: September 25, 1903 - Dvinsk, Russian Empire

Died: February 25, 1970 - New York, New York

Mark Rothko Timeline

"If you are only moved by color relationships, you are missing the point. I am interested in expressing the big emotions - tragedy, ecstasy, doom."

Mark Rothko Signature

Summary of Mark Rothko

A prominent figure among the New York School painters, Mark Rothko moved through many artistic styles until reaching his signature 1950s motif of soft, rectangular forms floating on a stained field of color. Heavily influenced by mythology and philosophy, he was insistent that his art was filled with content, and brimming with ideas. A fierce champion of social revolutionary thought, and the right to self-expression, Rothko also expounded his views in numerous essays and critical reviews.

Key Ideas

Highly informed by Nietzsche, Greek mythology, and his Russian-Jewish heritage, Rothko's art was profoundly imbued with emotional content that he articulated through a range of styles that evolved from figurative to abstract.
Rothko's early figurative work - including landscapes, still lifes, figure studies, and portraits - demonstrated an ability to blend Expressionism and Surrealism. His search for new forms of expression led to his Color Field paintings, which employed shimmering color to convey a sense of spirituality.
Rothko maintained the social revolutionary ideas of his youth throughout his life. In particular he supported artists' total freedom of expression, which he felt was compromised by the market. This belief often put him at odds with the art world establishment, leading him to publicly respond to critics, and occasionally refuse commissions, sales and exhibitions.
Mark Rothko in Yorktown Heights (c. 1949)
Mark Rothko in Yorktown Heights (c. 1949)

“We start with color," Rothko famously stated in 1936 when he was writing a book comparing children’s art to modern paintings. He went on to employ that early sense of color with his inherent belief: “the exhilarated tragic experience is for me the only source of art,” as he created his Color Field paintings, celebrated for their spiritual and psychological presence.

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Mark Rothko
Interactive chart with Mark Rothko's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
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Show influences

Artists

Pablo PicassoPablo Picasso
Paul CézannePaul Cézanne
Marc ChagallMarc Chagall
Joan MiróJoan Miró

Personal Contacts

Willem de KooningWillem de Kooning
Adolph GottliebAdolph Gottlieb
Joseph SolmanJoseph Solman

Movements

ImpressionismImpressionism
FauvismFauvism
ExpressionismExpressionism
CubismCubism
SurrealismSurrealism
Influences on Artist
Influences on Artist
Mark Rothko
Mark Rothko
Years Worked: 1923 - 1970
Influenced by Artist
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Barnett NewmanBarnett Newman
Clyfford StillClyfford Still
Morris LouisMorris Louis

Personal Contacts

Dore AshtonDore Ashton
Michelangelo AntonioniMichelangelo Antonioni
Milton AveryMilton Avery

Movements

Abstract ExpressionismAbstract Expressionism
Color Field PaintingColor Field Painting

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Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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First published on 01 Jul 2009. Updated and modified regularly. Information
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