By the late 1940s, Rothko abandoned references to nature in order to create images with universal associations. He developed a unique style where hazy and luminous rectangles float within a vertical format suggesting perpetual movement. He sought to create a solitary meditative experience with his work – ensuring that his pictures were scaled to an extent that the viewer was fully enveloped in the shifting surface.
189 x 100.8 cm
Date of work
Original: Oil on canvas 189 x 100.8 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.