This painting was part of a set commissioned for the Four Seasons Restaurant in the Seagram Building, New York, although Rothko later withdrew them. This picture was later included in a retrospective exhibition as 'Mural, Section 3' the opposite way up. To support this, on the back of the original MARK ROTHKO | 1959 is inscribed that way and the paint brush dribbles suggest that it should be hang in that direction. However, some arrows on the back point the other way which strongly indicates that Rothko later changed is mind and intended it to be hung the opposite way.
Black on Maroon, 1959
266.7 x 457.2 cm
Date of work
Original: Mixed media on canvas 266.7 x 457.2 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 condition of humankind.