Mark Rothko

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Mark Rothko

Mark Rothko is one of the important figures in the generation of painters. His work still draws attention to many people around the world. Born in Dvinsk, Russia (in what is now Latvia), Marcus Rothkovich was the fourth child of Jacob Rothkovich, a well to do pharmacist and his wife Anna Rothkovich. As Russia was a hostile environment for Zionist Jews, Jacob immigrated to the United States with his two older sons in 1910, finally sending for the rest of his family in 1913. They settled in Portland, Oregon. Mark graduated early from Lincoln high school, showing more interest in music, than visual art. He was awarded a scholarship at Yale university but soon found the environment at Yale conservative and exclusionary; he left without graduating in 1923. His first encounter with art was when he visited a friend who was in art class. He saw a picture of a nude model and drew his attention. He moved to New York City where he enrolled in max Weber’s still life and figure drawing classes at the art student’s league, which constituted his only artistic training. He stated that his style changes were motivated by the growing clarification of his content.” The progression of the painter’s work, as it travels in time from point to point, will be toward clarity.” He continues saying that “a painter does not paint for students or historians but for human beings, and the reaction of the human terms is the only thing that is really satisfactory to the artist.”(Breslin186) Rothko’s works saw many abrupt and clearly defined stylistic shifts on subject matter from figurative, landscape, and street scenes to myth and religion, and to multiform which consist of his warm color and dark colors. Rothko’s early works included landscapes of the areas around Portland hills; Rothko produced a number of water colors. Representing the natural landscape around Portland, Untitled work( color plate 4), in which Rothko adopts a vantage point in the hills south of Washington park and the city itself, to look across the Willamette towards the still-rural eastern side of the river. He used warm colors that gave a viewer a sense of peace. Also in the self-portrait (color plate 7) painting, Rothko is standing out from the brushed brown and yellow background, Rothko appears immovable, by turning his heard one quarter to the right and towards the light. His facial structure conveys definition and force of character. The portrait itself communicates a tension between Rothko’s strength and his vulnerability (Breslin107). Another, early paintings are of subway and the street scene. In the subway scene, He produced a number of images of a New York subway in which windows, and walls serve as structure. He shows the subway. Its walls and railing are represented as flat screens, tracks recede sharply. Figures can be identified by details of dress as commuters, shoppers, or school children, both they are largely attenuated, faceless, and flat. Rothko’s exterior scenes of modern street scenes, shows the city life that lacks the energy and the openness of nature. In the street scene (color plate 1) a sharply drawn line, defining the edge of public building against the black background for the human figures, splits the work into public and private spaces .The paint shows the classical architecture of the buildings associates it with art (Breslin107). Furthermore, Rothko changed his style to Myth and religion. He completed on a series of paintings that attempt to use mythological subjects preferably from Greek mythology. His turn to archaic myth derived from contemporary political reality. Newman later recalled.” It was impossible at that time to paint the kind of painting that we were doing- flowers, reclining nudes and people playing the cello”(Breslin163). In January 1942, Rothko exhibited the painting that showed a new turn on his work. ” Antigone” was the first Rothko’s new images shown in public. The...
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