Rediscovering Mark Rothko: A Tribute to an American Art Icon at the Fondation Louis Vuitton

Rediscovering Mark Rothko: A Tribute to an American Art Icon at the Fondation Louis Vuitton


Mark Rothko, one of the towering figures in American art of the 20th century, is set to once again captivate art enthusiasts as his work takes center stage at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in an eagerly awaited retrospective. With over two decades since his last retrospective in France, the time has come to pay homage to this influential artist and introduce a new generation to his artistry. From October 18, 2023, to April 2, 2024, the Fondation Louis Vuitton will host an exhibition that promises to be a journey through the life and evolution of Mark Rothko.

A Chronological Odyssey of 115 Paintings: This retrospective boasts a remarkable collection of 115 paintings, meticulously arranged in chronological order to offer visitors a glimpse into Mark Rothko's artistic evolution. The paintings on display span the artist's entire career, sourced from various collections, including the National Gallery of Art in Washington, private works from the Rothko family, and pieces from the Tate in London.

The exhibition commences in the 1930s, where Rothko's early figurative works transport viewers to a tragic and solitary world in a New York scarred by the atrocities of World War I. It is post-World War II when Rothko delves into abstraction, marking a profound shift in his artistic expression. His approach to art and techniques undergo a radical transformation during this phase.

Rothko's experimentation begins with color, mass, and geometric shapes, delicately balancing these elements. Gradually, the shapes fade away, leaving behind a canvas dominated by color. Rectangles take center stage, engaging in a silent dialogue with one another. Colors converse, complement, and sometimes clash within these works. Rothko often expresses himself through vibrant reds, earthy ochres, fiery oranges, and radiant yellows. Some compositions even explore the soothing tones of blues, crisp whites, and deep blacks. These seemingly simplistic works conceal a secret language, an unspoken dialogue that Rothko invites the viewer to partake in.

Masterpieces Not to Be Missed: Among the must-see treasures of this exhibition is a series of nine paintings displayed together. These pieces were originally commissioned for the Four Seasons restaurant but were ultimately withheld by Rothko. Today, they find their place in a dedicated room at the Fondation Louis Vuitton. Another highlight is the Rothko Room, an art space personally designed by the artist for the Phillips Collection.

Here is  deep dive into some of Rothko's most famous paintings:

  1. "No. 61 (Rust and Blue)" (1953):

    • Description: "No. 61 (Rust and Blue)" is a mesmerizing canvas of deep, rich colors dominated by rusty reds and calming blues. Two rectangular shapes, seemingly hovering over one another, create an intense interplay of tension and serenity.
    • Emotion: This painting exudes a sense of inner conflict, where the warm and cool colors collide, symbolizing the dualities inherent in human emotions – passion and tranquility, love and sorrow.
  2. "No. 14 (White and Greens in Blue)" (1960):

    • Description: "No. 14" is a remarkable example of Rothko's late-period works. It features a luminous field of soft blues, delicate greens, and ethereal whites. These colors blend seamlessly into one another, creating an almost mystical atmosphere.
    • Emotion: This painting invites viewers into a tranquil and meditative space, evoking a sense of serenity and transcendence. It's as if Rothko is inviting us to contemplate the infinite.
  3. "No. 3/No. 13 (Magenta, Black, Green on Orange)" (1949):

    • Description: This piece is a stunning fusion of magenta, black, and green set against a radiant orange background. Rothko's brushwork and layering of colors create an illusion of depth and movement within the canvas.
    • Emotion: "No. 3/No. 13" resonates with intensity and mystery. The juxtaposition of vibrant and somber colors suggests a sense of tension and intrigue, challenging viewers to explore their own emotional landscapes.
  4. "No. 5/No. 22 (Reds and Pink)" (1950):

    • Description: In this masterpiece, Rothko employs a fiery palette of reds and pinks that seem to pulsate with emotion. The rectangular forms, meticulously arranged, draw the eye into their depths.
    • Emotion: The painting emanates passion, energy, and raw emotion. It invites viewers to confront the tumultuous depths of their own feelings and desires.
  5. "Untitled (Black on Gray)" (1970):

    • Description: Rothko's later works often featured subdued colors, as seen in this painting. "Untitled (Black on Gray)" is a contemplative canvas of soft grays and deep blacks that creates a sense of profound stillness.
    • Emotion: This painting exudes a sense of quiet introspection and melancholy. It is a meditation on the ephemeral nature of existence, inviting viewers to embrace the beauty of impermanence.



Prepare to immerse yourself in the works of a master of abstraction as you explore this unique exhibition at the Fondation Louis Vuitton, starting in October 2023. Mark Rothko's art continues to resonate with audiences, transcending time and generations, and this retrospective promises to be a poignant journey through his artistic legacy. Don't miss the opportunity to witness the profound evolution of one of America's most celebrated artists.

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