The first retrospective in France dedicated to Mark Rothko, at the Louis Vuitton Foundation

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Mark Rothko.
Suzanne Pagé and Christopher Rothko with François Michaud and Ludovic Delalande, Claudia Buizza, Magdalena Gemra, Cordélia de Brosses.
From October 18, 2023 to April 2, 2024.
Opening hours
Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.- 11 a.m to 8 p.m.
Friday.- 11 a.m to 9 p.m (except on the first Friday of every month, closed at 11 p.m).
Saturday and Sunday.- 10 a.m to 8 p.m.
Louis Vuitton Foundation. 8 Av. du Mahatma Gandhi, 75116 Paris, France.

Mark Rothko

1903. Marcus Rotkovitch is born on September 25, in Dvinsk, in the Russian Empire (now Daugavpils, Latvia). The fourth child of a liberal Jewish couple, he will be the first in his family to receive a religious education.

1913-1914. In 1913, he emigrates to Portland, Oregon, with his mother and sister, to join his father and two brothers, who had left three years earlier. He is enrolled in an elementary school class for migrant children.

1918-1923. Skips two grades and begins Lincoln High School. Receives a scholarship to Yale University, which is not renewed at the end of the first year. In fall 1923, he leaves university without graduating and settles in New York.

1924-1925. Thanks to a friend, in January 1924, he decides to take classes at the Art Students League in New York. In spring, he returns to Portland, where he spends several months studying theater at the school run by actress Josephine Dillon. In October 1925, he returns to New York and the Art Students League, in the class of Max Weber.

1926. Becomes an official member of the Art Students League, where he will remain until 1930.

1927. Illustrates The Graphic Bible. Receiving no credit, he unsuccessfully sues the book’s author and publisher.

1928. Meets painter Milton Avery, who will have a profound influence on his work. First group exhibition, at the Opportunity Gallery in New York.

1929. Begins teaching drawing to children at the Center Academy of the Brooklyn Jewish Center, which he will continue until 1952. Meets Adolph Gottlieb.

1932. Marries Edith Sachar.

1933. Over summer, he holds a group show at the Portland Art Museum, exhibiting drawings and watercolors alongside works by his students. In November, New York’s Contemporary Arts Gallery presents his first solo show, with 15 oil paintings, most of them portraits.

1934-1935. In February, he is among the two hundred founding members of the Artists Union in New York. Alongside Gottlieb and other artists, he takes part in three exhibitions at the Uptown Gallery. Publishes his first article, “New Training for Future Artists and Art Lovers,” in the Brooklyn Jewish Center Review.

Joins the Secession Gallery and with artists Ben-Zion, Ilya Bolotowsky, Adolph Gottlieb, Louis Harris, Yankel Kufeld, Louis Schanker, Joseph Solman, and Nahum Tschacbasov, cofounds the independent group “The Ten,” which declares its opposition to the conservatism of the period’s regionalist artistic trends.

1936-1937. Shows with The Ten at the Municipal Art Galleries, New York; Galerie Bonaparte, Paris; and Montross Gallery and Georgette Passedoit Gallery, New York. Works for the Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), where he will remain until 1939.

1938-1939. Becomes an American citizen. The Passedoit, Mercury, and Bonestell galleries in New York organize exhibitions by The Ten.

1940. The Ten disbands. Rotkovitch begins calling himself “Mark Rothko,” though the change will not be formalized until 1959. Participates in the creation of the Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors.

During the year, Rothko and Gottlieb begin researching mythological themes. Rothko stops painting and dedicates himself to writing a book on his vision of art. Unfinished, it was found after the artist’s death, and published in 2004 as The Artist’s Reality.

1941. First Annual Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors Exhibition at the Riverside Museum in New York.

1942. Second Annual Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors Exhibition at Wildenstein and Company in New York.

1943. Meets Clyfford Still. Gottlieb and Rothko respond to a harshly critical article by Edward Alden Jewell in the New York Times. On New York radio station WNYC on October 13, the two artists explain the reasons for their interest in mythological subjects.

1944. Divorces Edith Sachar.

1945. First Exhibition in America of Twenty Paintings at Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of This Century gallery; she now represents him. At this time, his work reflects his interest in Surrealism. Meets his future wife, Mary Alice Beistle, known as Mell. Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Sculpture, Watercolors and Drawings at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.

1946. With the series of paintings known as “Multiforms”, his style continues to evolve. Joins Betty Parsons Gallery, where he will show each year until 1951. Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.

1947. Mark Rothko: Recent Paintings at Betty Parsons Gallery in New York. In summer, he runs courses at the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute). Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Publishes “The Romantics were Prompted” in the journal Possibilities, edited by Robert Motherwell.

1948. Second solo exhibition at Betty Parsons Gallery; for the first time, Rothko uses numbers to title his paintings. With William Baziotes, David Hare, Robert Motherwell, and Barnett Newman, he founds the Subjects of the Artist school, which he will leave the following year, shortly before its dissolution.

1949. Third solo exhibition at Betty Parsons Gallery. Returns to teach at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco. During this period, Rothko’s “Multiforms” are characterized by large flat areas of thin, diluted color. He sees Matisse’s Red Studio, which MoMA had acquired that same year.

1950. Fourth solo exhibition at Betty Parsons Gallery. Spends five months with his family in Europe, visiting Paris, Cagnes-sur-Mer, Venice, Florence (where they admire the Fra Angelico frescoes in the San Marco convent), Arezzo, Siena, Rome, and London. Birth of his daughter, Kathy Lynn.

1951. Rothko is one of the 18 artists in the iconic “Irascibles” photo published in Life magazine. Appointed assistant professor in Brooklyn College’s Department of Design, where he will teach until 1954. Fifth solo exhibition at Betty Parsons Gallery.

1952. Participates in the exhibition 15 Americans at MoMA.

1954. American Painters Today, Rothko’s first exhibition with Sidney Janis Gallery, which now represents him: the gallery organizes two solo shows, in 1955 and 1958. Meets curator Katharine Kuh from the Art Institute of Chicago, who organizes his first solo show at a major American museum.

1955. Newman and Still write to Sidney Janis criticizing Rothko’s painting as “salon”. Over the summer, he is a visiting professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Reads Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling.

1957. Solo exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston. Duncan Phillips, collector and founder of the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC, purchases two of his paintings. Rothko’s palette begins to darken.

1958. Represents the United States at the 29th Venice Biennale, alongside Seymour Lipton, David Smith, and Mark Tobey. On June 25, Seagram distilleries commissions a series of murals for the Philip Johnson-designed Four Seasons restaurant, in the Seagram Building, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, in New York. The artist eventually renounces the commission.

1959. Second trip to Europe, where he visits England, France, Italy, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

1960. The Phillips Collection organizes a solo Rothko exhibition and purchases three works; these will become the first pieces to be permanently installed in a space dedicated to the artist.

1961. On January 18, his first retrospective, Mark Rothko, opens at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It travels to London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Basel, and Rome, before finishing in Paris on January 13, 1963. Accepts a commission to paint murals for the new premises of Harvard’s Society of Fellows.

1962. Leaves Sidney Janis Gallery in reaction to Janis’s support for Pop Art.

1963. Before delivering the commission for Harvard University, he exhibits five of the panels at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. Signs an exclusive contract with Marlborough Fine Art Gallery. Birth of his second child, Christopher Hall.

1964. First solo exhibition at the Marlborough Gallery in London.

Begins work on his Blackforms series of paintings. On April 17, Dominique and John de Menil commission a series of paintings for the planned chapel of the University of St. Thomas in Houston. Philip Johnson designs the chapel, but the project will finally be realized by his associate architects Eugene Aubry and Howard Barnstone.

In 1968, a new site would be chosen for the chapel, then under the auspices of the Institute of Religion and Human Development.

1965. In March, he receives the Brandeis University Creative Arts Award. In October, he meets Norman Reid, director of the Tate Gallery in London, to discuss their acquiring paintings to be installed in a dedicated room at the museum.

1966. Third visit to Europe, where he stays in Portugal, Spain (Majorca), Italy, and France. He continues on to the Netherlands, Belgium, and England. In London, he sees the room in the Tate Gallery allocated to host his work.

1967. Completes the panels for the Menils’ chapel in Houston. He is invited to teach at the University of California at Berkeley over the summer.

1968. Spends three weeks of April hospitalized with an aortic aneurysm. His doctor advises him to not paint canvases over one meter high. He works on paper and uses acrylic paint for the first time.

1969. Leaves his family and moves into his studio at 157 East 69th Street.

Signs a contract with Marlborough Gallery; they will be his exclusive dealer for the next eight years. Begins a series of large, dark paintings, in shades of gray, black, and brown, known as Black and Gray. During this period, he considers a commission, finally unrealized, for the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, where his paintings would have hung next to a Giacometti sculpture.

The Mark Rothko Foundation is created in June. Yale University award him an honorary doctorate. Donates nine murals from the Seagram series to the Tate Gallery.

1970. Mark Rothko takes his own life in his studio on February 25. On May 29, the Tate Gallery inaugurates its “Rothko Room,” hung according to the artist’s specifications.

1971. On February 27, the Rothko Chapel in Houston is dedicated as an interfaith place of worship.



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