Mark Rothko, born in Dvinsk, Russia, was raised in Oregon where his father had immigrated for work in 1910. He enrolled at the Art’s Students League in New York in 1924. Rothko became influenced by many of the modern artists such as Max Weber and Paul Cezanne, pointing him in the direction of Abstract Expressionism.
Rothko continued to work numerous odd jobs including teaching art classes to support himself, but by the 1930’s he held his first exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Gallery in New York followed by participating in a group exhibition at the Galerie Bonaparte in France. Like many artists, he participated in the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Prior to the onset of World War II, Rothko became a US citizen in 1938 and through fear of anti-Semitism he changed his name from Marcus Rothkowitz to Mark Rothko as he is now known.
In 1947 Rothko began a series of paintings called “multiforms” or sometimes referred to as colorfield paintings. These are some of his most recognizable works of irregularly shaped areas of color. He painted in this style for the remainder of his life with increasingly larger canvas sizes.
Mark Rothko’s work has broken many record sales at auctions in recent years. His paintings now appear at the Smithsonian Archives of American Art, Washington, D.C.; the Nation Gallery of Art Washington; the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, NY; the Rothko Chapel, Houston, TX; the Mark Rothko Art Center, Latvia; and numerous others.