University of Art, Tehran
No. 11, 2001
brief of the article)
Rothko's Dark Paintings
Mark Rothko (1903-1970)
was born in Russia. He is considered one of the
leading figures of abstract expressionist painting. He
is one of the best known members of the New York
School and the founder of "Color Field
He went to the United States in 1913 and he studied
with Weber at Yale University. During the 1930's and 1940's, he mastered the
expressionist and surrealist styles, but in 1947, he
began his own new style.
His compositions usually consist of rectangles of
intense color with blurred edges floating on a silent
background. His paintings are often large, pensive and
impart serenity. His late works tend toward dark
colors, perhaps due to the severe depression that
ended in his suicide.
The wall paintings for a nondenominational church in
Houston, Texas (1967-1969), possess a transcendental
quality. Rothko consider these his masterwork. Another
series of nine paintings with black on red and red on
red (1958-1959) was initially designed for a
restaurant in the Seagram Building in New York and
Rothko donated them to the Tale Gallery, just before
In 1959, Rothko said, "A
painting is not a picture of an experience, but is the
experience". During the decades, he
created pictures that evoke feelings of sorrow and of
human drama, rather than pictures of birth and burial
of Christ, with formal and symbolic meanings.
The subject of Rothko's paintings are so deeply tied
in with their structures that to imagine separating
the two deviates from his artistic experience. His
works symbolically present simple yet extraordinary
and concentrated pictures. The concentration,
expansiveness and simplicity of structure in Rothko's
paintings are such that they immediately evoke deep
feelings in viewers and respond to their spiritual
needs, and thus it produces a great perceptual effect.
Communicating with the viewer was always an important
aim of Rothko's.
In 1958, he said, "Painting
is a language for exchange of truths about needs".