Thursday, April 29, 2010

Largest Private Collection of Mark Rothko Works Exhibited in Moscow

Moscow's Garage Center for Contemporary Culture is currently exhibiting 13 paintings from the world's largest private Mark Rothko collection. Titled "Mark Rothko: Into an Unknown World," this is Moscow's first large-scale exhibition devoted to the artist and focus on Rothko's mature period (1949 - 1969).

Included in the exhibition are studies for all three of the artist's famous mural projects: the Seagram Murals for the restaurant of the Seagram Building in New York, murals for the Holyoke Center at Harvard University and for the Rothko Chapel at the University of St. Thomas in Houston. A gray and black painting that Rothko completed shortly before his suicide in 1970 is also on display. This marks the first time these paintings have been shown together.

Rothko, born in 1903, explored surrealism and symbolism early in his career and later broke with representation in developing his signature style. The artist is best known for his post-1940s large canvases, on which he used luminous thin block coloring in reacting against the cubism of Picasso and the abstract cubism of Mondrian.

As the Moscow exhibition shows, Rothko's canvases became darker over the years, and his final works were devoid of color all together. This, along with Rothko's desire for dim lighting at his exhibitions (which the Moscow gallery is adhering to) reveal the artist's mounting struggles with depression, which became worse as he got older.

While Rothko has been a fixture of 20th century American Art - with his works included in the 20th century American art collections of some of the world's most well-known art museums (like the MoMA, Met, Tate, etc), it's interesting to note that the Russian art world is just now hosting its first large-scale Rothko exhibition. This is especially intriguing because the artist was actually born in Russia (a city formerly known as Dvinsk, which is now Daugavpils, Latvia). While it's debated, most experts say that Rothko's Russian heritage never really influence his work.

Click here to read the Moscow Times article associated with this post