Mark Rothko

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Mark Rothko became a leading Abstract Expressionist painter, using the rectangle of large-scale canvases for a one-color ground, visible along the edge and through occasional openings, showing three or four horizontal blocks of color with brushed surfaces and fuzzy borders.  His paintings are in every major U.S. museum, as well as many international museums including the Tate in London, Peggy Guggenheim in Venice, the National Gallery in Berlin and also Australia.

Rothko’s largely unseen work from the 1930s and early 1940s reveals sensitivity to his contemporary social conditions and acknowledges the developmental role of his mentor, Milton Avery.  Though impacted stylistically by Renaissance masters and modernists including Cezanne, de Chirico, Ernst, Marin and Munch, it was Avery who ultimately exerted the greatest influence upon his work at the time.  Avery inspired Rothko to simplify color and form, an example that Rothko elaborated upon by adding the expressive weight of color itself.  Noted art historian Klaus Kertess wrote, “The work he created in the 1930s is filled with an intensity, pathos, and brooding light that embody not only his personal sense of dislocation, but that of much of the population at large during the decade of the Depression.”

2015         American and European Masters – Art of the 19th-20th Centuries