Mark Rothko

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Mark Rothko was born on September 25, 1903. He was known as an American national of Russian Jewish descent. He was a painter who refused to conform himself to any conventions. Mainly, he was considered an Abstract. Alongside the likes of Pollock, he was in the legion of the most renowned American artists of the Post War era.

Rothko spent much of his early childhood in Russia. His father, Jacob Rothkowitz, was from the field of pharmacy and known for his intellect which he eventually passed on to his children. Rothko was in a milieu in which Jews were blamed for most of the crimes of the world. Hence, from a young age, he was terrorized because of his ethnicity.

Jacob Rothkowitz’s earning may not have been substantial. Yet, his family was very scholarly. Consequently, Rothko was fluent in a multitude of languages from a very young age. In fact, he, though the youngest of his siblings, was sent to cheder when he was just five. It was here that he learned the Talmud.

Apprehensive that his sons were going to be forced to participate in the Imperial Russian army, Rothko’s father found it best to move to the United States. Over here, Rothko was in the company of his mother and sister (Sonia). Soon after, they left for Poland to be with the rest of the family.

A few months later, Rothko’s father passed away. Rothko was devastated and the resulting financial burden added fuel to fire. Consequently, Rothko’s sister, Sonia, began working as a cash registrar. Rothko on the other hand was employed in a relative’s warehouse.

In 1913, Rothko became financially stable enough to continue his education. Hence, he enrolled himself in a school in America. Due to his sharp mind, he was able to skip a couple of classes and was quickly transferred to the fifth standard. He finished his secondary level with honors from Lincoln High School in Portland. He was seventeen at the time. This was also when he became fluent in English along with getting actively involved in the Jewish community center.

Mark Rothko, following the footsteps of his father, felt strongly about issues like workers’ rights and woman’s rights to birth control. Later, he won a scholarship to the prestigious Yale University. Unfortunately, the scholarship did not continue for the second year and Rothko had to work as a waiter to finance his studies. He was not all happy at Yale. In fact he found the institute incredibly elite and racist. This led Rothko to start writing satirical posts in The Yale Saturday Evening Post which mocked the rigid milieu of the university.

In 1923, Rothko got a job in the New York’s garment district. His interest in art was prompted by seeing some students sketching. Soon after, he took courses in at the Art Students League.

It was the atmosphere of New York that nourished his artistic mind. His paintings included themes that were primarily dark and moody. They were all supremely well accepted by most art critics.

In 1932, Rothko visited Lake George. It was here that he met his future wife, Edith Sachar who was a jewelry designer. They got married in a matter of months. Thereafter Rothko’s work began to gain more and more recognition. In the 1940’s Rothko’s style changed from one of scenes from urban life to that of death while in the 1950s his art turned completely abstract. During the 1960s, the colors Rothko used became strikingly dark.

On February 25, 1970, Rothko was found dead in his kitchen with split wrists. He was survived by his second wife and two children.

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