32¢ Mark Rothko
Four Centuries of American Art
Issue Date: August 27, 1998
City: Santa Clara, CA
Printed By: Sennett Security Products
Printing Method: Photogravure
Mark Rothko was born Marcus Rothkowitz to a well-educated family in Dvinsk, Russia in 1903. Persecution forced his family to immigrate to America, where they settled in Portland, Oregon. Rothko went to Yale University in 1921 on a full scholarship, but left during his second year. He soon moved to New York City and began studying painting.
A member of the abstract expressionist movement, Rothko’s paintings are characterized by large, boldly simplified abstract forms. He relied chiefly on color and vague boundaries to create a range of moods.
In 1933, Rothko was featured in a one-man exhibition at the Museum of Art in Portland. A few months later, his paintings were exhibited at the Contemporary Arts Gallery in New York City. He was employed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) for many years, producing scenes of isolated subway riders.
Rothko’s works of the 1930s and 1940s show his interest in Greek mythology and religious tragedy. By 1950, he had mastered the format which would become his signature – two or three soft-edged rectangles stacked on top of each other. In 1967, he completed 14 murals for the interdenominational Rothko Chapel in Houston.