Autors: F. Zaletilo

Mark Rothko (b. Marcus Rothkowitz) was born in Dvinsk, Russia (today Daugavpils, Latvia) on September 25, 1903. His family emigrated to the United States when he was ten years old, settling in Portland, Oregon in 1913. In 1921, Rothko entered Yale University where took courses in English, French, European History, Mathematics, Physics, Biology, Economics – and Philosophy. His initial intention was to become an engineer or an attorney, but after two yeas at Yale, he moved to New York City and studied painting in Max Weber’s class at the Art Students’ League. Thereafter he studied on his own and in most essentials can be said to have been self-taught.


W.Heick. Mark Rothko at the California School of Fine Art, San Francisco, 1949

Rothko was a central figure in the development of post-war painting in the United States, closely identified with the New York School. Together with many painters and sculptors of that period, Mark Rothko came to believe that recognizable images were obstacles to a direct experience of art. Drawing on expressionist and surrealist imagery he finally evolved a personal style, characterized by two or three rectangle-like shapes hover above and interacting with one another against a field. Rothko was able to create paintings of either intense melancholy or radiant luminosity within the basic compositional format he had developed by 1949.

His works are concentrated on the expressive potential of large color fields and the physical sensations generated by an enveloping atmosphere of luminous optical effects. One of the essential features of Rothko’s painting is their ability to evoke strong emotional responses within viewers which mirror simple and complex, personal and universal concepts by means of a reduced yet highly potent visual language.

In 1969 Yale awarded him an honorary degree. The citation read: “As one of the few artists who can be counted among the founders of a new school of American painting, you have made an enduring place for yourself in the art of this country. Your paintings are marked by simplicity of form and a magnificence of color. In them you have attained a visual and spiritual grandeur whose foundation is the tragic vein in all human existence. In admiration of your influence, which has nourished young artists throughout the world, Yale confers upon you the degree of Doctor of Fine Arts”.


The geography of the museums exhibiting Rothko’s works in USA.

Over the past decades we observe steadily growing interest in Rothko’s creativity, especially in regions where he has been little known. A big number of songs are dedicated to his images of painting, from Morton Feldman to Peter Gabriel. It is not by chance since the aim of the artist’s life was to raise painting to the level of greatness where music is, which is in the first place in the hierarchy of the arts concerning the efficacy on consciousness and subconscious (according Schopenhauer and Nietzsche). Many poetic works, inspired by the paintings of Rothko are written in different languages.