3 Cool Things (You Might Not Know) About Mark Rothko

Rothko_No 14

(Image source / As seen in museum / Corresponding newsletter)

Think a kindergartener could do this? Through smoldering slabs of color, Mark Rothko's "multiforms" evoke awe and explore the depths of the human condition.

Rothko_No 31. Of epic proportions: Rothko's paintings are meant to evoke Big Important Themes like the sublime, cosmic forces, the human condition, vastness of the void, infinity, death, ecstasy, and doom (Janson 1042). The paintings are quite large (sometimes around 7 or 9 ft). The viewer is intended to stand fairly close to get absorbed in the painting's presence, like being caught in an ocean wave. (Similar idea to Jackson Pollock's work, just with big slabs of color.) Closer look: No.3/No. 13 is about 7' x 5'. It's at the MOMA, and the main image above is at the SFMOMA, so you can try it out for yourself!
Rothko_Rust and Blue2. Darkness: Rothko's earlier multiforms were made with warm orange and red tones, evoking energy and emotion. His later paintings are in dark colors, alluding to the increasing tumult in his personal life. Closer look: No. 61, Rust and Blue is much darker than No. 3/No. 13 above in #1.
3. College dropout: What does Kanye West have in common with Rothko? Interestingly, they both dropped out of college. Rothko had a scholarship to Yale, but found it snobby. "Following his second year, Rothko dropped out, and did not return until he was awarded an honorary degree forty-six years later" (Rothko). He then moved the NY and became part of the artistic scene there. (Disclaimer: this is not an endorsement for dropping out of college!)

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