Mark Rothko Takes Over Fondation Louis Vuitton

Mark Rothko cultural exhibition at the Louis Vuitton Fundation

© 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko - Adagp, Paris, 2023

A retrospective of the American artist Mark Rothko? Count us in! Fondation Louis Vuitton presents a major exhibition dedicated to this genius of Abstract Expressionism. Within the gallery walls of the Fondation, you can explore an impressive collection of 115 paintings that trace the journey of this Russian-born artist. Truly unprecedented!


Figurative and Surrealism before Abstraction

Work from Mark Rothko at the Louis Vuitton Fundation in Paris

Scoop: Mark Rothko didn't exclusively create abstract works. Prior to his deep dive into colors and the study of light, the American artist had a penchant for figurative art, focusing on the human form. It was during this period that he created his only self-portrait in 1936, featuring clasped hands, disheveled hair, blue glasses, and lips stained with red, yet an expressionless face. This era also featured depictions of urban landscapes, scenes of city streets, New York subway platforms, and even cinema interiors.

Disheartened by his performance, Rothko took a break from painting, only to return with renewed vigor in the early 1940s, driven by the tragedies unfolding in his native Europe. In response to the prevailing barbarity, he attempted to create a universal language through surrealist canvases that were already leaning towards a form of abstraction. This becomes evident when viewing the immense "Slow Swirl at the Edge of the Sea," measuring over 2 meters in height. A true masterpiece!


The Multiforms Passion

Let the colors flow! In the early 1950s, Rothko underwent a radical transformation towards abstraction with the Multiforms series. Several dozen of these artworks adorn the walls of Fondation Vuitton, overwhelming visitors with swirling colors and reflecting Rothko's exploration of light. A significant portion of the exhibition focuses on the evolution of these vibrant compositions. Mark Rothko dedicated himself almost exclusively to Multiforms from 1946, but it was in 1949 that he began to paint the characteristic overlapping rectangles, all illuminated by a clear and translucent palette.


Embracing Grand Formats

With the Multiforms, Mark Rothko started creating immense canvases that occupied entire walls in museums and galleries where they were displayed. Most of these abstract paintings reached, and even exceeded, two meters in height and length, creating the sensation of being enveloped by the artworks. This is exemplified by the Seagram Murals, with "No. 9 (White and Black on Wine)" stretching to four meters in length! The succession of these grandiose works delivers an almost immersive experience that is hard to forget.

Mark Rothko, until April 2, 2024, at the Fondation Louis Vuitton, 8 Av. du Mahatma Gandhi, Paris 16th.

© 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko - Adagp, Paris, 2023

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