Painting, No. 8, 1952 Mark_Rothko

No. 8, 1952
Mark Rothko

“I’m not here to make ‘pretty pictures!’ I want my paintings to stop your heart, you understand that?!  I am here to make you think…feel a moan of rapture…sense the divine, or damned.” — Mark Rothko

Mark Rothko felt that a painting was not just about an artist painting his own experience; it was also an experience for the viewer.  His paintings needed us, the observers.

Luminous colors seem to hover over the huge canvases.  The rectangles seem to pulsate; they move.

Painting - Red, White and Brown, 1957 Mark Rothko

Red, White and Brown, 1957
Mark Rothko

Rothko believed colors held mythical powers which transported the observer. He urged the viewer “to lean forward, lean into the painting.  Engage with it.  Get close.  Let the picture do its work.”

His colors quiver with the pathos of tragedy and ecstasy…emotions that ruled his life.

Painting, No. 20, 1957 Mark Rothko

No. 20, 1957
Mark Rothko

“There is only one thing I fear in life, my friend…One day the black will swallow the red.”

Mark Rothko committed suicide at the age of 66 in 1970, at the height of his fame and wealth. His last paintings were the colors of tragedy: brown, dark blue and black.

Watch highlights from the award winning Broadway play, “RED”, about Mark Rothko!
Click here if you are unable to view the video.

Leave a Comment