Many painters and artists appeared after WWII, but Mark Rothko was without a doubt one of the most well-known painters to come from the New York art scene. He was a good student in school and received a scholarship to Yale University. The Yale community, on the other hand, did not excite him, and he dropped out of college to explore New York. He eventually discovered his place and likeminded people who inspired him to paint after discovering the artistic culture of New York. He established his unique style while working with various prominent artists and training some of the most talented young brains. Rothko began to think of painting as a means for conveying emotional and religious experiences as he moved away from representational art. His art had many forms and shapes, ranging from surrealism to the well-known multi-form.’ The latter gradually evolved into enormous rectangular fields of color, which became his signature. Rothko, a pivotal figure in modern twentieth-century painting, led a celebrity life, and he validated his reputation as a tortured artist by slashing his own arms and bleeding to death. Continue reading to learn more about this fascinating person.
Childhood and Adolescence
Rothko was born on September 25, 1903, in Dvinsk, Russia, to Jacob (Yakov) Rothkowitz, a pharmacist. He was the youngest of four siblings.
Due to his father’s Orthodox Jewish values, he was assigned to learn the Talmud at the age of five.
With the threat of the ‘Imperial Russian Army’ rising, Rothko’s father emigrated to the United States with two of his boys, while Rothko remained in Russia with his mother and sister.
The family rejoined in Portland in 1913, but Jacob Rothkowitz died soon after, leaving the family in financial distress. Marcus was a young man who took various jobs to support his family and further his schooling.
The bright student moved to the United States to further his education. In 1921, he graduated from Portland’s ‘Lincoln High School’ with honors.
He obtained a scholarship to Yale after learning English, where he found the culture to be both elite and racist. He worked multiple part-time jobs to support himself after his scholarship was not renewed.
The Career of Rothko
Rothko went to New York in 1923 and found employment in the garment sector. He enrolled at the ‘New York School of Design’ after being influenced by a friend’s art designs.
In 1928, he had his first show with a group of young artists at the ‘Opportunity Gallery,’ where he saw painting as a medium for emotional expression.
In 1929, with a small bit of success under his belt, he began teaching painting and clay sculpture at the ‘Center Academ.’
He worked with various artists over the next few years, honing his talent. Finally, in 1933, he had his first exhibition of drawings at the ‘Portland Art Museum.’ At the ‘Center Academy,’ he also showed the work of his students.
He returned to New York and displayed fifteen oil paintings, as well as a few aquarelles and drawings, in his first one-man show on the East Coast at the ‘Contemporary Arts Gallery.’
In 1935, he joined forces with Ilya Bolotowsky and a number of other artists to agitate for equal rights for artists. During this time, he was also developing his influential work and developing new art forms that would later become his trademarks.
He collaborated with the Artists’ Unions to establish the ‘Municipal Art Gallery’ two years later. In 1940, he took a break from painting and concentrated on reading the works of James Frazer and Sigmund Freud.
Friedrich Nietzsche’s ‘The Birth of Tragedy’ prompted him to rekindle his painting in 1942. These feelings were depicted in his artwork ‘The omen of the Eagle.’
In 1945, he had a one-man show at Guggenheim’s ‘The Art of This Century Gallery,’ where his masterwork ‘Slow Swirl at the Edge of the Sea’ was on display. The display, however, did not bring Rothko any money, and his concentration changed from ‘Surrealism’ to Clyfford Still’s abstract art.
He developed transitional’multiform’ paintings the next year, such as ‘No. 18’ and ‘Untitled,’ which were released two years later. In his later displays, these forms established a distinctive style.
In 1949, he released an essay titled “The Romantics were Prompted,” which was a polite defense of his artists’ legendary characters as sources of inspiration. He came to see Matisse’s ‘Red Studio’ during this period, and it impacted his later work.
He traveled to Europe with his wife in the 1950s and did one-man shows in Amsterdam and Japan.
The ‘Rothko Chapel’ was founded in Houston, Texas in the 1960s. He considers this his most important work, dedicating six years of his life to it.
Rothko’s Major Projects
‘White Center’ and ‘Orange, Red, Yellow’ are two well-known Rothko paintings that have shattered several sales records and brought in large sums of money. The ‘White Center’ was sold for 72.8 million dollars in New York, while the latter was sold for 86.9 million dollars.
His most famous piece, the ‘Rothko Chapel,’ was completed in 1971, after Rothko had died.
Rothko’s first wife, a jewelry designer named Edith Sachar, was first married. In 1932, he married Edith, whom he met in Lake George. Nine years later, the marriage ended in divorce.
He met his second wife, Mary Ellen ‘Mell’ Beistle, a year after his divorce from Edith, in 1944. In the spring of the following year, the couple married.
Due to Rothko’s worsening health difficulties and impotence, the couple divorced in 1969. They are the parents of two children.
Rothko was discovered dead in his kitchen by his assistant Oliver Steindecker at the age of 66. The artist had overdosed on antidepressants and slashed his wrists to commit suicide.
Rothko’s 86 paintings were cataloged by David Anfam. The book was published in 1998 and was titled ‘Mark Rothko: The Works on Canvas: Catalogue Raisonné.’
In 2006, his son Christopher wrote ‘The Artist’s Reality.’ This was Rothko’s own unpublished manuscript.
Estimated Net worth
Mark is one of the wealthiest painters and one of the most popular. Mark Rothko’s net worth is estimated to be $14 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.