Mark Rothko 1903–1970
This retrospective of 94 works, including 14 works on paper, surveyed four decades of Rothko’s career but emphasized the 1950s, a period highlighted in this exhibition by a series of nine Seagram Murals painted between 1958 and 1959 and presented to the Tate by the artist in 1969. (These canvases belong to a larger campaign of about thirty murals that Rothko produced on commission for the Four Seasons Restaurant in New York’s Seagram Building, a project he abandoned in 1959.) Mark Rothko 1903–1970 was the most comprehensive British exhibition of Rothko’s work since the Whitechapel Art Gallery show held more than twenty-five years earlier. The Tate show was also the first major presentation of the artist’s work after the Mark Rothko Foundation had dispersed its holdings in 1986 to a select group of international museums. More than one-third of the exhibition, thirty-four works, were Foundation gifts, and the National Gallery of Art, the primary recipient of the Foundation’s largesse, was a key lender. The works on paper included six from the mid-1940s and eight from the final two years of Rothko’s life. The exhibition traveled in reduced form to Madrid, where five works on paper were included, and to Cologne, Germany, where eleven works on paper were shown.