See “Rothko: The Late Series” at the Tate Modern on the artist’s later works
Mark Rothko’s Exhibition at the Tate Modern
Mark Rothko is one of the world’s best-loved artists and is one of the most influential American artists of Abstract Expressionism. This new exhibition at the Tate Modern is titled “Rothko: The Late Series” and is the first significant exhibition of Rothko’s work in the last twenty years within the UK. This exhibition will re-unite the iconic “Rothko Room” works in the Tate Modern with works in Japan and Washington.
Why is Mark Rothko Famous?
Marcus Rothkowitz – widely known as Mark Rothko is a painter of Russian origin born in 1903. Although mainly recognised for his abstract expressionism paintings, Rothko had moved through traditional expressive and figurative styles as well as Surrealism in the 1940s. It was in 1947 that he first started his large abstract “ colour-field” paintings, his canvases often took on biomorphic compositions.
Rothko’s paintings are dominated by large blocks of colour that are meant to be viewed under subdued lighting. This makes his canvases seem to throb, inviting the viewer to contemplate and “enter and feel” the paintings and emotions they convey.
Rothko’s Seagram Murals
These sets of canvases shown at the Tate Modern’s exhibition were originally part of what is known as The Seagram Murals, a set of paintings commissioned for the Four Seasons Restaurant. The Four Seasons Restaurant is located in Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building in midtown Manhattan – hence the murals’ name.
The Four Seasons Restaurant never received these murals, as Rothko changed his mind, he decided that a smart restaurant environment did not suit the pictures he had created. The Seagram Murals were created to be shown as a complete environment and Rothko felt that wealthy and chattering diners would not appreciate the sombre mood that the paintings created – a set of abstract paintings reflecting the tragedy of existence.
The thirty or so works that he had created in connection with this commission has now ended up in three different locations around the world – the Tate in London, Sakura, Japan and Washington. The set of canvases that Rothko had given to the Tate were, what is believed to be, a complete set that were supposed to be shown together.
Other Mark Rothko Series shown at the Tate
As well as the Seagram Murals, the Tate’s exhibition on Mark Rothko will also focus on:
- The Black-Form Paintings – these works appear solid black at first sight, but after looking at them carefully, you will see that there are multiple layers where Rothko has paid close attention to the gradations in texture and tone. The artist wanted the viewer to look more closely, and the arrangement of this series introduces an element of physical self awareness and duration to the viewer whilst they are in the process of perception.
- Brown and Grey Works on paper – this series was produced on paper as Rothko had suffered an aortic aneurysm earlier and doctors had recommended that he limited himself to canvases no larger than forty inches in height.
- Mark Rothko’s last series of Black on Grey paintings.
This much anticipated exhibition will be on at the Tate Modern from 26th September until 1st February 2009. The tickets are now on sale and cost £12.50 (with discounts for senior citizens, students and children). The exhibition is free for Tate Members.
Make a special visit to London and see this remarkable artist’s later works at the Tate Modern.
For more information, please visit www.tate.org.uk/modern/exhibitions/markrothko/default.shtm
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