Lot Content

Global notice COVID-19 Important notice
Mark Rothko (1903-1970)
Mark Rothko (1903-1970)


Mark Rothko (1903-1970)
oil on canvas
12 x 16 in. (30.4 x 40.6 cm.)
Painted in 1942.
Edith Carson, New York
Anon. sale, Sotheby's Parke Bernet, Inc., New York, 27 January 1966, lot 42
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner
D. Anfam, Mark Rothko: The Works on Canvas Catalgoue Riasonné, New Haven and London, 1998, p. 198, no. 205 (illustrated in color).

Lot Essay

Following his involvement with the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and anticipating his Surrealist experimentation, Composition incorporates visual elements of myth and primitivism. Explaining the vitality of his pulsating forms and colorful vibrations, Rothko once stated, "Every shape becomes an organic entity, inviting the multiplicity of associations inherent in all living things." (Rothko, Mark, "Introduction," in First Exhibition Paintings: Clyfford Still, exh. cat., New York: Art of This Century, 1946, n.p.)

Composition, 1942 belonged to Edith Carson, Mark Rothko's first wife, whom he met at Lake George in 1932, they were married from 1932 to 1945. The legendary curator and director, Walter Hopps interviewed Edith Carson in 1976, where Carson spoke about her memories with Rothko, their thirteen year marriage, as well as Rothko's admiration for Milton Avery. The majority of Mark Rothko's early works from 1940-1946 are in the collection of The National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. or other institutions. Composition, 1942 is a rare example, but exquisitely reveals Rothko's early genius.

More from Post-War and Contemporary Art Session II

View All
View All