The Daugavpils Mark Rothko Art Centre collection is one of its greatest assets. Through it, the art and culture institution keeps world-class art available to the region’s residents and visitors and promotes continued development of creative processes in the regional, national and international art space as a brilliant testament to leading contemporary trends and the timeless excellence of old masters.
The collection grew with the idea of bringing Mark Rothko – the father of abstract expressionism and a native of Daugavpils (then Dvinsk) – back to his birthplace in a symbolic homecoming through an art centre that would carry his name. In 2003, the artist’s children – Kate Rothko Prizel and Christopher Rothko – donated to the city a retrospective selection of forty museum-quality reproductions of their father’s work. These treasures became the bedrock for the future centre’s emergent collection and acquired an almost sacred value.
In 2005, Daugavpils hosted the first international Mark Rothko Plein Air, which became an immediate tradition and a solid ground for continued growth of the collection. Thus, in 2013, when the Daugavpils Mark Rothko Art Centre opened to the public, it already held more than two hundred paintings from the plein air.
Since its establishment, the Rothko Centre has been maintaining a vibrant international symposium and residency programme, which attracts contemporary artists from Latvia and beyond, stimulates creativity and keeps the collection growing. Every year, the centre receives donations from symposium participants working in different mediums. These acquisitions push the geographical boundaries of the collection and reflect the diversity of contemporary developments within the field. Lately, individual donations by artists partnering with the Rothko Centre for their solo shows have become another driver for collection growth and a strong success marker for the institution’s lively exhibition programme.
At the end of 2018, the Daugavpils Mark Rothko Art Centre entered into an agreement with the artist and philanthropist Basil Alkazzi (UK), which stipulated the establishment of the Basil Alkazzi Acquisitions Fund, enabling the centre to acquire valuable paintings and prints by domestic and international artists.
The centre’s collection work also has a strong historical significance, as it aims to preserve memorial values and support intergenerational succession within the arts. Hence its committed stance to building and maintaining commemorative collections of three illustrious natives of Daugavpils – Pēteris Martinsons, Sigurds Vīdzirkste and Silva Linarte – and ongoing efforts to keep their creative legacy and celebrate their historic influence.
As of 2022, the Rothko Centre collection contains artworks by more than six hundred Latvian and international artists in painting, graphics, ceramics, sculpture, textile, photography and electronic art, giving diverse visual mediums a broad representation and creating opportunities for their dynamic interaction in custom-made exhibition projects.
The substantial size and artistic variety of the collection enable the centre to produce conceptually diverse exhibitions for domestic and international grounds, keeping the collected artworks available to Latvian audiences in the capital and to art fans in other countries.
Up to 2023, the Rothko Centre’s permanent exhibition sector will offer “Found in the Collection” – the most comprehensive recap of its finest artistic values collected over nearly two decades. In 2022, the centre produced the exhibition catalogue – the first publication to cover the most precious treasures in its collection in a visual and textual story spanning 220 pages. In a sense, it is a visual and textual diary featuring stories of symposiums and exhibitions, offering evidence of successful communication and cooperation towards exciting art projects and illustrating the centre’s prominent role in guiding and shaping current developments in the art world, where the human touch takes centre stage – that of the artist, the curator and the collector.