Our Top 5 Mark Rothko Works!
Posted on July 14 2017
Mark Rothko was an iconic American artist who was part of the Abstract Expressionist group; a movement which developed in New York in the 1940s.
The work of this group of artists concerned itself with spirituality, the mind and the subconscious and was created with the impression of spontaneity; each work was highly abstract, using gestural brushstrokes that implied deep emotion in its creation.
"If you are only moved by colour relationships, you are missing the point. I am interested in expressing the big emotions - tragedy, ecstasy, doom."
The movement was split into two groups. The first was aptly named the ‘action painters’. This group included artist Jackson Pollock, and created work with more impulsive techniques. Pollock, for example, showed his spontaneous approach by flicking paint onto the canvas, transferring his fleeting emotions onto the artwork.
The other group of artists within the Abstract Expressionist movement were referred to as ‘the colour field painters’. Rothko falls into this category.
‘Instead of making cathedrals out of Christ, man, of “life”, we are making it out of ourselves, out of our own feelings.’
(a fellow abstract expressionist artist)
Throughout his career, Rothko was deeply interested in religion and mythology. In the 1930s and 40s, he created figurative works such as Crucifixion (1935) and Oedipus (1944), before moving on to replace the figures with rectangles of colour.
Rothko began creating fields of colour on enormous canvases. He wanted his work to convey complex emotions in the simplest way possible, allowing his viewers to use the paintings as a means to engage with spirituality – his works are often considered to be ‘landscapes of the mind’.
Our Top 5 Rothko Works
Here are our top 5 Mark Rothko works - available as prints!
Our favourite works feature his iconic 'fields of colour'; Rothko’s unique way of representing human beings/spirits.
“It was not that the figure has been removed… but the symbols for the figures… these new shapes say… what the figures said”
1. Red (Orange)
Rothko’s vivid orange paintings are some of his most popular pieces, to this day. His sunset-coloured work Orange, Red, Yellow went for a record $86.9 million at a Christie’s auction in 2012!
2. No.14 White and Greens in Blue
Rothko also often worked with blue tones. The contrasting textures of the paint are clear in this beautiful print. The hazy white rectangle is particularly evocative of his interest in spirituality and depicting the sublime.
3. Red-Brown, Black, Green, Red
Later in his career, Rothko began to gravitate towards working with reds and browns. An interest sparked by a commission that he never completed for The Four Seasons restaurant, located in the Seagram building, New York. This print is deeply rich in colour.
4. No.2/No.30 (Yellow Center)
The pale patch of yellow in the center of this work makes it appear to be glowing from within. Rothko wanted his paintings to be spiritual, allowing the viewer to engage with the painting as if it were another human being. These patches of bright colour bring the painting to life, suggesting movement and energy.
5. Untitled (Brown and Orange of Maroon)
This vivid print features the best of Rothko's work - the iconic brown, orange and blues all together represent the most prevalent colours from Rothko's artistic career.