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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)


Photo: Spike Mafford / Zocalo Studios. Courtesy of the Friday Foundation



Mark Rothko

American, 1903-1970

Like other artists of his generation, Rothko was looking for compelling visual forms that would correspond with the social and political pressures that were building during the 1930s. His study of Greek mythology and tragedy and visual hierarchies in ancient friezes that separated earthly and celestial realms eventually led to his celebrated, abstract floating forms. Over the next decades, Rothko experimented with color and scale. “To paint a small picture,” he noted, “is to place yourself outside your experience, to look upon an experience as a stereopticon view or with a reducing glass. However you paint the larger picture, you are in it. It’s something you command.” Rothko’s diaphanous white band contrasts with the dark tonal values in this mature work. The forms quietly pulsate and exert a deeply emotive force.
Oil on canvas
69 x 90 1/4 in. (175.2 x 229.3 cm)
Gift of the Friday Foundation in honor of Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis
Provenance: The artist; Estate of the artist; [Marlborough Gallery, New York]; purchased from gallery by Jane and Richard E. Lang, Seattle, Washington, 1972; Friday Foundation, Seattle, Washington, 2018; to Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington, 2020
Photo: Spike Mafford / Zocalo Studios. Courtesy of the Friday Foundation
Now on view at the Seattle Art Museum


Exhibition HistoryNew York, New York, Marlborough Gallery, Masters of the 19th and 20th Centuries, Apr. - May 1972. Cat. no. 50, reproduced.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, American Art: Third Quarter Century, Aug. 23 - Oct. 14, 1973. Cat. no. 57, pp. 16-17, 101, reproduced.

New York, New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Mark Rothko, 1903–1970: A Retrospective, Oct. 27, 1978 - Jan. 14, 1979 (Houston, Texas, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Feb. 15 - Apr. 18, 1979; Minneapolis, Minnesota, Walker Art Center, Apr. 25 - June 10, 1979; Los Angeles, California, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, July 3 - Sept. 26, 1979). Cat. no. 182, reproduced.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, The Richard and Jane Lang Collection, Feb. 2 - Apr. 1, 1984. Cat. no. 41, pp. 56-57, reproduced.

Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, Mark Rothko, May 3 - Aug. 16, 1998 (New York, New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Sept. 10 - Nov. 29, 1998; Paris, France, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Jan. 8 - Apr. 18, 1998). No cat. no., reproduced pp. 200-01, pl. 95.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Big Picture: Art after 1945, July 23, 2016 - May 16, 2021 [on view Nov. 20, 2018 - May 16, 2021].

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Frisson: The Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis Collection, Oct. 15, 2021 - Nov. 27, 2022. Text by Jeffrey Weiss. No cat. no., pp. 15, 42, 132-137, 192, reproduced pp. 52-53, 133 (pl. 13), 182.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Reverberations: Contemporary Art and Modern Classics, Dec. 22, 2022 - ongoing.
Published ReferencesA Community of Collectors: 75th Anniversary Gifts to the Seattle Art Museum. Seattle: Seattle Art Museum and University of Washington Press, 2008. Reproduced p. 29.

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

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