25 September 1903; Dvinsk, Belarus
25 February 1970; Manhattan, New York, United States
1925 - 1970
Born in a province belonging at the time to the Russian Federation, but currently to Latvia, Mark Rothko was one of the most important American painters. After his early works (most of them indebted to the influence of Surrealism), Rothko eventually developed in the late '40s his signature style, consisting of rectangular fields of color and light. Associated with Abstract Expressionism and color field painting, Rothko disowned the abstract nature of his paintings, claming that he is interested "only in expressing basic human emotions — tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on"; also, he stated that color is merely an instrument for him. From the mid '50s onwards, having several periods of depression, he would often use darker colors, culminating with the hue-colored black paintings that he has done for the Rothko Chapel project. The chapel is finished in 1971, one year after his death.