Born in Russia (Sept 1903 – February 1970) his family moved to Portland, Oregon when they feared they would be drafted into the czarist Russian army.
Life was difficult as they lost a sibling on the trip over which meant all the kids had to work to help the family make ends meet. Markus was in 3rd grade at this time and was excelling so well he was moved to the 5th grade where he learned his 4th language after, Hebrew which was English.
Mark Rothko went on to study at Yale University but felt it was an elitist establishment and dropped out after his 2nd year. It was an encounter in New York some years hence where he saw a young student sketching that started his desire to become an artist which continued to the end of his life.
By this time Rothko had joined a group of other fairly well known painters and is known for painting what he himself claimed were “industrial paintings” works that hung on large walls. Rothko’s work was 8 to 10 feet long and equally as high.
The progression of a painter’s work as it travels in time from point to point, will be toward clarity.. toward the elimination of all obstacles between the painter and the idea.. and the idea and the observer.. To achieve this clarity is inevitably to be understood.
Rothko suffering from severe depression took his own life in February of 1970.
To me Rothko seemed deeply affected by an intense need to arrive somewhere in his work which in some small insignificant way I can understand. There is a hidden drive in some artists to get at it. The vision can be so intense at times that portraying it is almost the hardest thing to do. As you get a bit of it, you think it’s right and then somehow in the next day or so it slips away.
I think if you spend some time deeply looking at Rothko’s work you will see much in what appears to be “nothing.” He is extremely adept at layering and shading with the colors underneath bouncing through to the foreground. His work shimmers and has a very lush quality about it. He definitely had a vision for his work and it saddens me that in the end he took his life for it.