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Mark Rothko FEB 18 – MAY 27, 2012
Regarded as one of the leading American artists of the 20th century, Mark Rothko (1903-1970) began his life in art as Marcus Rothkowitz in Portland, Ore. Having emigrated from Russia as a 10-year-old with his mother and older sister in 1913 to join his father and brothers in Portland, Rothko attended Lincoln High School and took his first art classes at the Museum Art School before going off to Yale, New York City, and beyond. This exhibition celebrates a native son whose lyrical paintings created a legacy for the world.
The 45 works in the exhibition trace Rothko’s artistic path from the late 1920s until shortly before his death in 1970. Borrowed from the Rothko family, the National Gallery of Art, and private collectors, the exhibition presents Portland’s first comprehensive look at the artist’s development and the aesthetic issues that shaped his production. The exhibition moves from his early figurative works of the 1920s under the tutelage of Max Weber and friendship with Milton Avery, into the attenuated figures of his New York subway paintings, through an abstract surrealist phase to the emergence at the end of the 1940s of his mature abstract style of floating, saturated color and transcendent calm.
A retrospective survey of Mark Rothko’s paintings has never been staged in Portland, although Rothko’s first museum exhibition was hosted by the Museum in 1933-34.
The Museum thanks the National Gallery of Art and the Rothko children, Kate Rothko Prizel and Christopher Rothko, for their enthusiasm and support of this effort to bring the paintings of Mark Rothko to Portland. The late Harold Schnitzer was instrumental in moving this landmark exhibition to fruition for the community.
Organized by the Portland Art Museum and curated by Bruce Guenther, curator of modern and contemporary art.