Although dated in 1959, Black on Maroon, 1959 is believed to have been part of a collection originally commissioned for the Four Seasons Restaurant in the Seagram Building, New York as it closely resembles others in the set. Close look at the paint dribbles suggests that it was painted both ways up. This painting was gifted to the Tate in 1969.
Black on Maroon, 1959
266.7 x 228.6 cm"
Date of work
Original: Mixed media on canvas 266.7 x 228.6 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 condition of humankind.