Mark Rothko

Mark Rothko

Mark Rothko was perhaps the most spiritually minded artist of the New York School, believing that art had the capacity to evoke a transcendent experience in the viewer. Born in Dvinsk, in the Russian Empire (today Daugavpils, Latvia) in 1903, the artist’s family immigrated to the United States in 1913, settling in Portland, Oregon. Rothko was given a scholarship to attend Yale University, but dropped out during his sophomore year and moved to New York where he attended classes at The New School for Design Parsons and the Art Students League. The artist became close to a number of other painters, including Barnett Newman, Adolph Gottlieb, and Clyfford Still, all of whom greatly influenced his artistic growth. Initially inspired by the surrealist movement, the artist made works featuring mythical symbols and forms which he eventually abandoned in favor of an increasingly abstract style. By 1946, Rothko began to make the Color Field works for which he is renowned. In 1964, John and Dominique de Menil commissioned the artist to create a non-denominational chapel for viewers to meditate upon these works in Houston, Texas. In 1970, before the completion of the Rothko Chapel, the artist took his own life. Rothko’s work was celebrated in posthumous retrospectives at venues including The Guggenheim, New York, the Hamburger Kunsthalle, Germany, the Portland Art Museum, Oregon, and the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.

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