Mark Rothko
American painter of Latvian-Jewish descent



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Mark Rothko
American painter of Latvian-Jewish descent
Average: 3 (2 votes)

Birth Date

September 25, 1903

Death Date

February 25, 1970

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ldare's picture

Sr. Editor

Pissing off Mark Rothko would be a grave mistake.

He was part of a theater group run by Josephine Dillion, Clark Gable's wife.

He preferred painting to sculpture. 'Painting is so poetic, while sculpture is more logical and scientific and makes you worry about gravity.'

Rothko painted a series of works for the restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York. He then refused to deliver them because he was being a huge diva and felt the lighting in the room was just not right and the diners did not deserve to enjoy his works. This episode was the subject of the 2010 Tony award winning play 'Red.' 

In 1968 he was diagnosed with a mild aortic aneurysm and to the chagrin of his doctors continued to drink, smoke, not exercise, and eat poorly. He did, however, follow their orders to paint pictures no larger than a yard in height. He committed suicide by cutting his wrists. His autopsy revealed that he also overdosed on antidepressants.  

Rothko and his financial advisor, Bernard Reis, created an art and education foundation to be funded by Rothko’s work to be received after his death. Reis instead sold them to an art gallery for cheap and they split the profits from the sales. Rothko’s children rightfully sued the gallery and Reis and it went on for TEN years. At the time the scandal was known as the 'Watergate of the art world.' The dealer didn't do himself any favors when he supposedly told one reporter 'I collect money, not art.' 

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Mark Rothko

Mark Rothko (/ˈrɒθk/), born Markus Yakovlevich Rothkowitz (Russian: Ма́ркус Я́ковлевич Ротко́вич, Latvian: Markuss Rotkovičs; September 25, 1903 – February 25, 1970), was an American painter of Latvian Jewish descent. Rothko did not personally subscribe to any art movement, but he is generally identified as an abstract expressionist.


Mark Rothko was born in Daugavpils, Latvia (then in the Russian Empire). His father, Jacob (Yakov) Rothkowitz, was a pharmacist and intellectual who initially provided his children with a secular and political, rather than religious, upbringing. According to Rothko, his Marxist father was "violently anti-religious". In an environment where Jews were often blamed for many of the evils that befell Russia, Rothko's early childhood was plagued by fear.

Despite Jacob Rothkowitz's modest income, the family was highly educated ("We were a reading family", Rothko's sister recalled), and Rothko spoke Lithuanian Yiddish (Litvish), Hebrew and Russian. Following his father's return to the Orthodox Judaism of his own youth, Rothko, the youngest of four siblings, was sent to the cheder at age five, where he studied the Talmud, although his elder siblings had been educated in the public school system.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Mark Rothko.