Marcus Yakovlevich Rothkowitz, better known as Mark Rothko, was discovered dead in his apartment 43 years ago today.
In his lifetime Rothko created massive paintings of abstract yet tangible color fields. Although historically defined as an Abstract Expressionist, the painter resisted categorization and looked instead toward simple, primitive and transcendent understandings of art. In other words, Rothko's paintings featured fuzzy-edged blocks of color that swallowed the viewer whole.
Mark Rothko,"Orange, Red, Yellow" (1961).
The Jewish painter struggled with depression and possibly undiagnosed bipolar disorder during his life. In 1970, the artist committed suicide. He was 66 years years old. In a 2002 essay, Jonathan Jones at the Guardian writes, "Rothko's death changed everything. It transformed the meaning of his work, gave every encounter with his painting a terrible gravity."
The artist's body was discovered by his assistant Oliver Steindecker on the same day his now famed Seagram Murals arrived at the Tate for display. Rothko's legacy lives on today through his meditative art chapel, Broadway-adapted life story and an eternal fascination with his emotionally-gripping works.
We've created a slideshow remembering Rothko's life and art, from inspirational quotes to SFMOMA's delectable treat "Rothko toast." How has Mark Rothko's work affected your life? Let us know in the comments.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
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