This work is an example of where Rothko abandoned references to the natural world in order to paint images with universal connotations. The hazy, pulsating rectangles he said ‘'have no direct association with any particular visible experience, but in them one recognises the principle and passion of organisms'.
Light Red Over Black
232.7 x 152.7 cm
Date of work
Original: Oil on canvas 232.7 x 152.7 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.