Mark Rothko's Black On Maron

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Mark Rothko was born in Russia, Dvinsk and at the age of ten moved to America with his family. During the 1950s he became a central figure of the abstract expressionist movement alongside Jackson Pollack and other famous artists. Unlike Pollack who used splashes and drips, Rothko is most famous for his rectangles and luminous colours. This style is known as a colour field which was pioneered by Rothko, Barnett Newman and Clifford Still. Rothko did not identify them as colour fields and he didn`t like his paintings being labelled. These painters avoided using forms which stood out against the background, they filled their paintings with large areas of single colour. The paintings were viewed as a field rather than a window. Rothko’s work was…show more content…
This large unframed painting was originally intended to be light but as his palette had become darker he used a mixture of red, maroon and black instead. A large black horizontal rectangle overlays a base colour of maroon with two slimmer vertical maroon rectangles enclosed inside, suggesting a window like structure. The black form is a solid colour and the edges have been feathered and blurred into the areas of the maroon. Different pigments have been blended into the maroon, turning the colour from a deep wine to a muted mauve with tones of red, giving a sense of depth. The canvas was a single sheet of cotton duck material; this was tightly stretched and primed with a base coat which he made from powdered pigments mixed with rabbit skin glue. Once the glue had shrunk and dried, it left the surface with a matt finish. Rothko then added a second base coat that he later scraped away leaving a thin layer of colour. He then used a large decorator`s brush and applied black paint with fast broken brushstrokes spreading the paint around the canvas with broad sweeping gestures, blending the edges between the blocks of colour. Tones of red acrylic paint have been dabbed in the lower left corner of the canvas, these became more visible with time as the pigments in the maroon parts of the canvas began to fade. Rothko completed all three series of the ‘Seagram Murals’, but withdrew from the commission, as he thought that they were inappropriate for the setting and didn’t like the idea that his work would only be viewed by wealthy clientele as they wouldn’t view his work the way he
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