Mark Rothko
(Lithuanian, 1903 - 1970)
Mark Rothko
by Milton Avery
This person is associated with: Abstract art, Abstract Expressionism

Lithuanian born artist whose family fled in the USA at the beginning of the World War I. 

Rothko graduated from Yale, then the New York School of Design and the Art Students League of New York, where he was taught by Max Weber. He started an artistic career with difficulty, as his style was a banal kind of expressionism, with some portraits and watercolour landscapes; later he explored Surrealism, then became interested by abstraction in the 1940s.

Throughout the decade, he experienced several formulas, and finally found in 1949 the composition which would turn him into on of the two great masters of Abstract-Expressionism - by now the dominant art movement in the USA - the other artist being Pollock. Contrary to him, Rothko however painted works with preparation and always the same design, which made him one of the easiest artists to spot in the century.

As with Jawlensky and his famous "abstract head", he indeed declined hundreds of times his hallmark composition, made of two or three rectangular, horizontal, and blurred shapes painted on a vertical support. The principal variation between his works was the choice of colours for each of these quadrangular shapes. During the 1950s, they were dominantly bright and warm, while they became cold and dark during the 1960s, such as in the Rothko Chapel (Houston), where 14 massive and dark canvases are displayed.

Perhaps, this change of palette expressed Rothko's depressed mood, since he committed suicide on 25 February 1970.

The works of his classic period (1950-1970) are among the most expensive to come in auction, with prices sometimes exceeding $50 million. His Orange, Red, Yellow was notably sold for the staggering price of $86.8 million in 2012.

In 1985-6, the Rothko Foundation made a fabulous gift of more than a thousand works to the National Gallery of Art, which therefore owns the best collection of his works in the world.


  • David Anfam, Mark Rothko, The Works on Canvas, Catalogue RaisonnĂ©, New Haven and London, 1998.
  • Bonnie Clearwater, Mark Rothko: Works on Paper, New York, 1984.
Name:Mark Rothko
Dates:1903 - 1970
This artist has 74 artworks in the database. Add more!
Top owners of works by this artist
Museum of Modern Art - New York(United States - New York City)18 artworks
Metropolitan Museum of Art - New York, NY(United States - New York)17 artworks
Art Institute of Chicago(United States - Chicago)5 artworks
Kunstmuseum Basel(Switzerland - Basel)3 artworks
Addison Gallery of American Art - Andover, MA(United States - Andover)3 artworks
Los Angeles County Museum of Art(United States - Los Angeles, California)3 artworks
Whitney Museum of American Art - New York, NY(United States - New York City)3 artworks
Private collection3 artworks
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden - Washington DC(United States - Washington, DC)3 artworks
Yale University Art Gallery - New Haven, CT(United States - New Haven, Connecticut)2 artworks
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes - Buenos Aires(Argentina - Buenos Aires)1 artworks

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Creative works made by this person are COPYRIGHTED.

This person died fewer than 70 years ago (in 1970).