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Denver Art Museum announces exhibition chronicling artist Mark Rothko's decisive decade
Mark Rothko, No. 9, 1948. Oil and mixed media on canvas overall: 53-1/16 x 46 5/8 in. Gift of The Mark Rothko Foundation, Inc.©1997 Christopher Rothko and Kate Rothko Prizel ©1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Image courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
DENVER, CO.- The Denver Art Museum is presenting the exhibition Figure to Field: Mark Rothko in the 1940s, June 23–September 29, 2013. Figure to Field highlights the artistic evolution of one of the most influential artists of the 20th century by showcasing works created in the critical decade of his formative development. Drawn primarily from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.—the largest repository of Rothko’s work anywhere in the world—the exhibition includes many paintings, drawings and watercolors rarely seen before. The exhibition is on view in the museum’s Gallagher Family Gallery and is included in general admission.

“Figure to Field provides our visitors a visual delight as well as an understanding of Rothko’s artistic journey during the 10 years he developed from a sensitive and gifted figurative painter to become the master of the sublime in the 20th century,” said Christoph Heinrich, Frederick and Jan Mayer Director of the Denver Art Museum.

The exhibit includes 30 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 also features 12 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 affords visitors and scholars an opportunity to understand the relationship between the two masters. The DAM partnered with Clyfford Still Museum as well as the Curious Theatre Company for exhibition-related programming.

The exhibition follows 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.

“Within the realm of Rothko’s oeuvre, the works in this exhibition are the keys to everything,” said the artist’s son Christopher Rothko in the exhibition catalogue.





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