Mark Rothko

By: Anna Darden

Full Name

Marcus Yakovlevich Rothkowitz

Date & Place of Birth

He was born in Dvinsk (name changed to Daugavplis in 1920), Russia on September 25, 1903


He was highly educated and was able to speak Russian, Yiddish and Hebrew. In 1913, Mark left Russia for Portland, Oregon, for his father feared the drafting of his brothers in the Russian Army.

Family Information

Parents: Jacob Rothkowitz & Anna Goldin Rothkowitz

Siblings: Sonia, Moise, & Albert

Wives: Edith Sachar & Mary Alice Beistle

Children: Christopher & Kate


Rothko attended Portland's Lincoln High School in 1921 and attended Yale, studying liberal arts and the sciences. He left in 1923, without graduating.

Art Education

In 1925, Mark Rothko moved to New York City, where he studied at the Art Students League, under Max Weber.

How He Got Started

Rothko participated in his 1st group exhibition at the Opportunity Galleries, New York, in 1928. His first solo show took place at the Portland Museum of Art in 1933. In 1935, he was a founding member of the Ten, a group of artists sympathetic to abstraction & expressionism.

What Type of Art Did He Create?

Rothko primarily created colorfeild paintings, and also some work with mythology.

What transitions did he go through?

In the 40's, Mark painted mythology pieces. Soon after, he realized that mythology was outdated and wasn't a good way to express yourself. Rothko started colorfeild paintings. He used warm, bright colors for most of his life. When he started to get older & depression started taking over, he used darker colors (mainly brown, black and maroon).

What materials did he use?

Mostly oil paints on big canvases.

What are oil paints made of?

Different pigments ground with oil.

What was happening in the world during his lifetime?

  • World War II (1939-1945)
  • Great Depression (1929-early 40's)
  • Women granted the right to vote (1920's)

Date & Place of Death

He was diagnosed with heart disease in 1968 & suffered from major depression. Rothko committed suicide in his New York City Studio on Feburary 25, 1970