After his experience eating in The Four Seasons restaurant Rothko breached contract, returned the advance and kept the paintings. This was the world Rothko saw with such disdain. This is the world that worships mindlessly the legacy of the socialist Mark Rothko. Like most other artists Rothko found himself in a place that in order to continue to paint he must paint for the ruling class.
On February 25th of 1970 artist Mark Rothko took his life by cutting his arms with a razor the very same day nine of his paintings arrived at London’s Tate Gallery. He was found in his kitchen covered in blood. Mark Rothko took some barbiturates and opened a vein in his arm. Today Rothko lives on in his work, owned by the bourgeoisie. The rich and powerful can afford to buy one of his paintings. His painting Orange, Red, Yellow sold for $86,882,500 on May 8, 2012. This striving to own a part of this man may be one of the biggest slaps in the face he could receive. Mark Rothko was not silent about his feeling for the Bourgeoisie. As well as being a painter he was also a member of the IWW. In 1958 Rothko began a commission for the Seagram’s building and the luxury restaurant The Four Seasons. He set out with the goal of painting “something that will ruin the appetite of every son-of-a-bitch who ever eats in that room. If the restaurant would refuse to put up my murals, that would be the ultimate compliment. But they won’t. People can stand anything these days.”
Rothko was a Russian Jewish Immigrant like many anarchists of the early 20th Century. He spoke of growing up an anarchist and how he saw Emma Goldman giving her speeches as a boy.
Later in life with the death of the Russian Revolution, the destruction of the Spanish Revolution by Communists and Fascists, and the rise of the Nazis Rothko became disillusioned as to whether there was any hope for social change. But he claimed “I am still an anarchist”! – from libcom.org
Born in 1903, Rothko dropped out of Yale after two years to spend the next twenty as an obscure artist in new york. It was not until abstract expressionism began to boom in the 50′s that Rothko began to be appreciated and accepted as ‘an American Master’ in his field. Although Rothko rejected abstraction and color field painters he became possibly one of the most the most know color field painters and abstract artists. Rothko became unique in his ability to use color to invoke emotion in the viewer.
I strongly suggest checking out Simon Schama’s Power of Art episode featuring Mark Rothko: