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Denver Art Museum presents Figure to Field: Mark Rothko in the 1940s

Submitted by on July 14, 2013 – 8:20 am

Denver Art Museum presents Figure to Field: Mark Rothko in the 1940s an exhibition on view through September 29, 2013.

Sea Fantasy, 1946. Oil paint on canvas. Gift of The Mark Rothko Foundation, Inc., National Gallery of Art, 1986.43.8 ©1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Image courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C

Sea Fantasy, 1946. Oil paint on canvas. Gift of The Mark Rothko Foundation, Inc., National Gallery of Art, 1986.43.8 ©1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Image courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C

Mark Rothko in the 1940s traces the development of Rothko’s work during the most critical decade of his career. In the early ’40s, Rothko rejected realism and began a series of abstract works meant to evoke classical myth; in the late ’40s he created his first color field paintings, the works on which his stature as one of the most famous American painters of the post-war period rests. The exhibition also includes paintings by other celebrated abstract expressionists such as Robert Motherwell, Clyfford Still, and Jackson Pollock, who shared Rothko’s search toward total abstraction.

The exhibit will include 28 works by Rothko that illuminate his artistic evolution to become the preeminent artist of the Color Field branch of the New York school. “By the end of this decade, the rectangular bands that quietly described the backgrounds of earlier paintings became the essential fields of his mature works,” said Gwen Chanzit, curator of modern art at the DAM.

To provide a broader context for Rothko’s development, Figure to Field will also feature 11 works by some of the artist’s celebrated contemporaries who shared Rothko’s artistic search, including Robert Motherwell, Clyfford Still and Jackson Pollock. The recent opening of the Clyfford Still Museum adjacent to the DAM will afford visitors and scholars an opportunity to understand the relationship between the two masters. The DAM will partner with Clyfford Still Museum as well as the Curious Theatre Company for exhibition-related programming.

The exhibition will follow a rough chronological path, tracing Rothko’s journey from the figurative through surrealist myth-based works, the surrealist-abstracted and the multiforms, all the way to the classic/color field paintings he began at the end of the decade—Rothko’s signature compositions of softly lit rectangular fields that have the capacity to transport viewers to meditative states. – See more at: http://www.denverartmuseum.org/exhibitions/figure-field-mark-rothko#sthash.u5VUBKIK.dpuf

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