Mark Rothko

More than words

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Latvian-born Markus Yakovlevich Rothkowitz emigrated as a child to the US, Rothko became obsessive about symbolism and humanity.   


Famous for his layered rectangles he achieves a sense of movement and light in the strokes, he believed in using paint as a tool to encapsulate the drama of humanity. His early works were heavily influenced by Cezanne. His works, whilst always in the realms of abstract begin in the more literal, with figure paintings. He shifted in style when his paths crossed with Milton Avery driving ever-increasingly to the minimalist abstract.  Hyper-focused on the emotional aspect of his subjects he had his first solo shows in 1933 depicting not only human subjects but also the perceptual experience of spaces.

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As the reality of the Great Depression took hold, he searched for a visual language to capture the struggle of life and his work continued its development into the surreal throughout the late 30s and 40s. Drawing on religion and myth he works to embody the spirit of his subject, as his work darkens in essence, it is the intangible that lit his obsession and crowded his mind. As his work devolved from subject to shape its spirit deepened in complexity. The first of his signature blocked works emerged in the late 40s.   


His works, by this time, he considered to transcend the limitation of title. The act of removing the title stripped the works of preconception. It gave the viewer a clean slate on which to interact with the piece, as opposed to a lens from which to view it. This act was designed with the intention, to challenge people to see beyond abstraction to the sublime. 


To compound this challenge to the viewer he began to refuse to explain his work. However, neither public nor the critic fully realised his challenge, they did not see the depth of meaning and purpose behind each stroke, at first glance these works appear simple in composition but are misleadingly complex.  


He held the stance of silence throughout the latter years of his career, keeping the secrets of his work close in the hope someone would rise to his unspoken challenge...they never did, and the secrets of his works were left with him when he took his own life in his studio in 1970. In his final works, the darkest could be seen to foretell the tortured artist's fate. 


In an attempt to recapture a fraction of the depth of soul for this piece, we have used Takeo Tant, embracing luxury and the depth of texture in every paper used. 


This piece was created in collaboration with G.F Smith.


The paper used can be used as part of our Bespoke Service.


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