This painting was part of a collection originally commissioned for the Four Seasons Restaurant in the Seagram Building, New York, although Rothko later withdrew them on the grounds that they did not complement the setting. He later said that this set was inspired by Michelangelo’s dark murals in the Medicean Library in Florence which for him, created a feeling of entrapment, like being in a room with no doors or windows. This painting was gifted to the Tate in 1968.
Black on Maroon, 1958
266.7 x 381.2 cm"
Date of work
Original: Oil on canvas 266.7 x 381.2 cm © 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko/ DACS 2014
Born in Russia in 1903, Rothko immigrated to America in 1913. In the early 1940s he began using archaic symbols and Jungian shapes to represent the primal emotions embedded in myths. By 1947 he had abandoned the human figure and developed a highly original form of abstraction with paintings showing large edges of colour. His death by suicide in 1970 lead many to believe that his work reflected his depressed state, but Rothko insisted that his work did not represent his personal emotions but rather his theories on the condion of humankind.