Mark Rothkowitz/Rothko (1903, Russian Empire – 1970, New York) immigrated to the United States at the age of 10, in August 1913, which is why he is referred to as an “American” painter. He initially lived in Portland and later studied at Yale (not finished) and New York. In 1933, he had his first solo exhibition at the Portland Museum of Art!
In 1938, he finally obtained American citizenship and changed his name to Rothko.
In 1945, he exhibited at the Peggy Guggenheim Gallery “Art of This Century” in New York. He was already an esteemed artist early on!
Then, in 1949, his career really took off, shaping him into the artist we know today. He is considered the most important representative of abstract expressionism, and he had the greatest influence on the so-called color field painting. His works consist of intermingling monochromatic color fields, which may not be understood as “art” by everyone, following the motto: “My child could do that.”
However, Rothko aimed to establish a viewer-painting relationship in which the impact of color alone created the connection, without being distracted by figurative elements.
“A picture lives by companionship, expanding and quickening in the eyes of the sensitive observer. It dies by the same token. It is therefore a risky act to send it out into the world.”, Rothko, quoted from Wikipedia. He also said, “Pictures must be miraculous.”, Rothko, quoted from Wikipedia.
Rothko suffered from manic-depression, and this is also evident in his art, primarily in the shifts in his use of color.
In 1970, Rothko committed suicide in his studio. His wife passed away a few weeks later from a heart attack—whether these events are related, we do not judge. His children, Kate and Christopher, later had disputes with the administrators of the Rothko estate, accusing them of selling many paintings far below their value.
Today, Rothko’s works can fetch top prices, ranging from $40 million to $86 million.