Fondation Louis Vuitton presents the first retrospective in France dedicated to Mark Rothko (1903–1970) since the exhibition held at the musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris in 1999. The retrospective brings together some 115 works from the largest international institutional and private collections, including the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., the Tate Gallery in London and the artist’s family. Displayed chronologically across all of the Fondation’s spaces, the exhibition traces the artist’s entire career: from his earliest figurative paintings to the abstract works that he is most known for today.
“I became a painter because I wanted to raise painting to the level of poignancy of music and poetry.” –Mark Rothko
The exhibition opens with intimate scenes and urban landscapes – such as visions of the New York subway – that dominate Rothko’s output in the 1930s, before his transition to a repertoire inspired by ancient myths and surrealism which Rothko uses to express the tragic dimension of the human condition during the War.
From 1946, Rothko makes an important shift towards abstract expressionism. The first phase of this switch is that of Multi-forms, where chromatic masses are suspended in a kind of equilibrium on the canvas. Gradually, these decrease in number, and the spatial organization of his painting evolves rapidly towards Rothko’s “classic” works of the 1950s, where rectangular shapes overlap according to a binary or ternary rhythm, characterized by shades of yellow, red, ochre, orange, but also blue, white…
Curators: Suzanne Pagé and Christopher Rothko, with François Michaud and Ludovic Delalande, Claudia Buizza, Magdalena Gemra, Cordélia de Brosses