Modern and Contemporary Art
Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
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Artist: Mark Rothko, American, born Russia, 1903–1970, D.F.A. (Hon.) 1969



Oil on unprimed canvas

236.2 × 142.7 cm (93 × 56 3/16 in.)
Katharine Ordway Collection
Like many of the Abstract Expressionists, Mark Rothko celebrated painting as a revelation of the self, a metaphor for the artist’s inner emotional and psychological state. Yet he was also concerned with the viewer’s share in this art of subjective expression. Suggesting that his paintings be viewed up close and in dim light, he hoped to immerse the spectator in color. In mature works such as this painting, the deliberately limited structure of rectangles or squares, arranged in loose, vertical sequences, enables the exploration of an infinite range of exquisite color harmonies and proportional relationships. Color acts as both space and light, achieving an effect analogous to that of the diffused, colored light that streams through stained-glass windows.
On view
20th century

Diane Waldman, Mark Rothko, 1930–1970: A Retrospective, exh. cat. (New York: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1978), no. 119, ill.

Mark Rothko, 1903–1970, exh. cat. (London: Tate Gallery, 1987), 133, no. 44, ill.

Mark Rothko, exh. cat. (Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 1998), 146–47, no. 67, ill.

Leo Villareal, Leo Villareal (Ostfildern, Germany: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2010), ill.

Lesley K. Baier, The Katharine Ordway Collection, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1983), 70, 72–73, 103, no. 45.

Stella Paul, Chromophilia: The Story of Colour in Art (London: Phaidon, 2017), 126.

Alan Shestack, ed., Yale University Art Gallery Selections (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1983).

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.