Responses to 'Practice' Writing Task

Mark Rothko

Mark Rothko’s painting ‘Red on Maroon’, is part of the Tate Modern collection and from the latter part of Rothko’s career. It indicates a change in the artist’s practice from his earlier works.

Molard (2018) Informs us that Mark Rothko’s earlier works were figural, focusing on human bodies in abandoned cityscapes or on classical myths, but eventually evolved to focus on colour as the primary conveyor of meaning. Molard (2018) adds, Rothko said, “The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when I painted them. And if you, as you say, are moved only by their colour relationships, then you miss the point.” Does this indicate a shift in Rothko’s practice, moving toward the more spiritual?

Shaw (2013) questions, ‘But what, precisely, are we meant to see in this space? As the critics Leo Bersani and Ulysse Dutoit observe, although ‘the internal frame’s repetition of the canvas’s verticality’ creates ‘an impression of depth’, the desire for legibility is ultimately frustrated. Due to the difficulty we experience in trying to distinguish between foreground and background – at times the silver-grey section appears to resist its subordinate position ‘so that it almost appears to be on the same plane as the red frame’ – the viewer may well come away with the impression that there is, after all, nothing to see in this work.’

Yet according to Sainsbury (2008) Rothko saw these paintings as objects of contemplation, demanding the viewer’s complete absorption.’ Rothko took his own life in 1970.

Web Pages

Alexxa Gotthardt, (2018) Mark Rothko on How to Be an Artist. Available at: (Accessed: 10 Oct 2019).

Eve Sarah Molard, (2018) 21 Facts about Mark Rothko. Available at: (Accessed 11 Oct 2019).

Helen Sainsbury, (2008) Mark Rothko. Available at: (Accessed 11 Oct 2019).

Philip Shaw, (2013) ’Mark Rothko’s Red on Maroon’, in Nigel Llewellyn and Christine Riding (eds.), The Art of the Sublime, Tate Research Publication, January 2013, Available at:, (Accessed: 09 Oct 2019).


Lucarota, (2016) La “Rothko Room” della Tate Modern di Londra come esperienza spirituale.

Available at: (Accessed 10 Oct 2019).

Phoebe Roberts, (2016) Red on Maroon 1959, Tate T01165, © Kate Rothko Prizel and Christopher Rothko/DACS 1998. Available at:

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