This work was painted between Rothko’s mythical, surrealist paintings of the early 1940s and the block-like compositions of his mature style. At this time, he began to view the literal depictions of mythical subjects as inhibiting. Describing the biomorphic forms in paintings such as this, he wrote: ‘every shape becomes an organic entity, inviting the multiplicity of associations inherent in all living things’.
100 x 70 cm
Date of work
Original: Oil on canvas 100 x 70 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.