In this major critical appraisal, Diane Waldman assesses Mark Rothko's place in the history of twentieth-century art. She writes of his childhood as an immigrant from Russia, his student days at Yale, his early career as a struggling artist, and his crucial role in the development of the New York School of Abstract Expressionism. The progression of his work is analysed in detail, from his early figurative experiments of the 1920s to the emergence of his characteristic mature abstract style, with a particularly illuminating discussion of the achievement of the late canvases. His relationship with such contemporaries as Adolph Gottlieb and Clyfford Still is also examined in some depth. A detailed chronology of Rothko's life and an exhaustive exhibitions list and bibliography are valuable ancillary features. The many illustrations include not only reproductions of oils and water-colours, but also photographs of the artist, his family and friends.
Diane Waldman is former deputy director and senior curator at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.