Mark Rothko


April 1946

During the late 1930s and early 1940s Mark Rothko, like William Baziotes, Adolph Gottlieb, and Theodoros Stamos, combined mythical themes with primordial imagery in order to express universal experiences. In his work of this period evanescent biomorphic shapes float within an atmospheric haze. Resembling rudimentary life forms or primitive subaquatic plants and creatures, these shapes are intended to provide a visible equivalent of images lodged in the subconscious. Though he drew primarily on his innermost sensations, Rothko also looked toward earlier art. The example of Joan Miró is here evoked in the dotted line, the flame, the amorphic personage at the lower left, and in the meandering threadlike tendrils. Overtly representational images have disappeared, signaling a move toward the complete abstraction of Rothko’s mature style. In its horizontal zoning, cloudlike texture, and blurred contours, Sacrifice anticipates his characteristic, fully evolved Color-Field paintings.

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Artist Mark Rothko
Date April 1946
Medium Watercolor, gouache, and india ink on paper
Dimensions 100.2 x 65.8 cm
Credit line Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice (Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York)
Accession 76.2553 PG 154
Collection Peggy Guggenheim Collection
Type Work on paper

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