This painting was from a collection originally painted for the Four Seasons Restaurant in the Seagram Building, New York. It has also been known as ‘Mural Section 4’ – which probably alluded to where it should hang in the room. However, once the murals were completed, Rothko withdrew his permission to use the paintings as he felt that their content did not complement the setting. This painting along with others in the set, was gifted to the Tate in 1968.
Red on Maroon, 1959
266.7 x 238.8 cm
Date of work
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.