The Moscow Garage Center for Contemporary Culture (GCCC) on Thursday opened Mark Rothko's first exhibition ever staged in Moscow, featuring over a dozen paintings inspired by a total supremacy of color and light.
Mark Rothko (born Marcus Rothkowitz, a Russian-born American), even after his death in 1970, remains one of the most best-selling modern artists. In the 1940s, he shifted from surrealistic experiments to start a series of paintings where there is nothing but color. Many of these pieces were sold for unbelievably high prices.
In 2007, New York Sotheby's broke the record of contemporary art auctions by selling Rothko's 1950 painting White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose) at $ 72.8 million.
The GCCC exhibition Into an Unknown World spans twenty years of the artist's career, from 1949 to 1969, and includes No. 12 (Yellow, Orange, Red on Orange) as well as monumental studies for all three of Rothko's famous mural projects: The Seagram Murals, The Holyoke Center at Harvard University and the Rothko Chapel at the University of St. Thomas in Houston. One of Rothko's last grey and black paintings from 1969 is also on view.
Each of the displayed Rothko's paintings creates some kind of a helpless feeling while looking at its impenetrable color density. It is hard to deal with inexplicable agitation standing next to the canvases. They block the rest of the space. It seems nothing exists on Earth except the color filling these square "Universes."
Earlier media said the entire collection is estimated at $310 million. The previous owner was a former U.S. money manager and financier, Ezra Merkin, who was a close business associate of Bernard Madoff and allegedly played a significant part in the Madoff fraud. After Madoff was sentenced to his 150-year imprisonment, Merkin in June, 2009, sold the paintings off to an unknown art collector.
The name of the current owner of Rothko's canvases is secret, but Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich was named the possible owner of the collection. However GCCC international projects coordinator, Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst, denied the information.
Rothko himself said the subject matter was not significant for him anymore. "The fact that one usually begins with drawing is already academic. We start with color," he said, adding that "if I have faltered in the use of familiar objects, it is because I refuse to mutilate their appearance for the sake of an action which they are too old to serve, or for which perhaps they had never been intended"
"I am not an abstractionist. ... I am not interested in the relationship of color or form or anything else. ... I'm interested only in expressing basic human emotions - tragedy, ecstasy, doom and so on - and the fact that a lot of people break down and cry when confronted with my pictures show that I communicate those basic human emotions..." Rothko said in 1957 in an interview with Selden Rodman for his book Conversations with Artists.
MOSCOW, April 22 (RIA Novosti by Anastasia Markitan)