The Passion of Mark Rothko


#TIA – I’m not sure it’s worth going back 44 years to read an article so gruesome about an artist we’ve come to celebrate so greatly. But that’s what goes with scholarship. 

“In the early hours of a chill morning in late February, 1970, Mark Rothko, the distinguished American painter, committed suicide in an odd, ritualistic way. What he did was to take enough barbiturates to poison himself, take off his suit and fold it unusually neatly over a chair, strip to the waist, run water in the kitchen sink and—though he had never been able to tolerate the sight of blood—slice with a razor deep gashes into the crooks of both his arms. Behind him in his cavernous Manhattan studio were the huge haunting hopeless black and grey canvases he had been painting for the last several months.

The following day the front page of The Times carried the news of Rothko’s suicide. Tributes to the sixty-six-year-old “pioneer of the New York School of abstract expressionism” covered the obituary page. His characteristic paintings—monumental, deceptively simple, soft horizontal rectangles floating on a field of contrasting color—had been hailed for years by critics, curators and collectors of contemporary art.”

Read more at Esquire