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On view  |  Painting and Sculpture II, Gallery 17, Floor 4

Mark Rothko. No. 10. 1950

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Mark Rothko (American, born Russia (now Latvia). 1903–1970)

No. 10

Oil on canvas
7' 6 3/8" x 57 1/8" (229.6 x 145.1 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Philip Johnson
MoMA Number:
© 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Audio Program excerpt

Abstract Expressionist New York: The Big Picture

, October 3, 2010–April 25, 2011

Director, Glenn Lowry: The artist's son Christopher Rothko oversees the Rothko Family Foundation and Archive. He has also published a book on his father's writings, The Artist’s Reality.

Christopher Rothko: I really do see space as the defining element in my father's classic abstractions. My father frames the work; he controls the action; he basically sets the stage via the forms and via the space.

And what I love about this is just not the sort of surprising juxtaposition of white and yellow and blue but there's quite a bit of brown in there as well, which I think provides a very important backdrop to let these colors sing. You have to look really hard for a true rectangle. They're always rounded, softened, cut off suggestions of rectangles.

And I think in doing that, he is always emphasizing the humanness of the painting. This is no machine-age painting. This is painted by a real painter, really by hand and if the artist sort of dreams a rectangle that isn't really a rectangle, that's what it's about.

I think it's in those transition points between the rectangles where you have the sort of feathery end of one rectangle and the feathery beginnings of another, and juxtaposed with the background color. That's where the real electricity is.

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