Mark Rothko and His Painting “White Center”

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MUSEUM PAPER
MARK ROTHKO AND HIS PAINTING “WHITE CENTER”

Mark Rothko’s painting “White Center” is a breathtaking abstract painting I saw at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (LACMA). Rothko painted this 84 x 72-inch oil on canvas work in 1957. The painting is done in his signature style of using color and form-floating rectangular shapes.

Rothko was part of the American movement that became known as Abstract Expressionism, which was more than just a painting style. It refers to the process the artists worked in conveying powerful emotions through the quality and size of the paintings. They were also greatly influenced by European Surrealism and Expressionist painters. This movement was about expressing one’s feelings through the act of painting. Jackson Pollack might be the most well known example of this with his drip paintings. This group of artists first gained notice during the Great Depression. The term Abstract Expressionism was first used by art critic Robert Coates from the New Yorker in the context of modern painting in 1945.[1] The movement gained momentum during and following WWII when many artists came to the United States from Europe and went on to form the New York School, a group of like-minded avant-garde artists. The name New York School became synonymous with Abstract Expressionist painting.

This was the first time American artist’s gained significant recognition in the art world. The recognition came after the “Fifteen Americans” show at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in 1952. The MoMA show included Rothko (who had eight paintings in a separate gallery), the other artists included in the exhibition were William Baziotes, Edward Corbett, Edwin Dickinson, Herbert Ferber, Joseph Glasco, Herbert Katzman, Frederick Kiesler, Irving Kriesberg, Richard Lippold, Jackson Pollock, Herman Rose, Clyfford Still, Bradley Walker Tomlin and Thomas Wilfred.

Abstract Expressionism was a very modern movement with artists being...
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