Mark Rothko: The Decisive Decade, 1940–1950

The featured decade of this exhibition, the 1940s, was pivotal in Rothko’s career. It was characterized at one end by his representational and mythological work, and at the other by the signature fields of color he began producing in 1949. A selection of 24 canvases and 3 watercolors from the National Gallery of Art was shown alongside works by a number of the artist’s contemporaries, including Milton Avery (1985–1965), William Baziotes (1912–1963), Robert Motherwell (1915–1991), and Theodoros Stamos (1922–1997). The latter two venues, at Denver and Little Rock, presented a different set of Rothko watercolors from the National Gallery and an additional watercolor from a private collection. The exhibition title was also revised in Denver. The exhibition was conceived by Todd Herman while he was chief curator at the Columbia Museum of Art. It was jointly organized by the four venues in collaboration with the National Gallery of Art.