Contemporary Art

Mark Rothko By The Numbers

By Eva Sarah Molcard

Mark Rothko was a relatively prolific artist; his catalogue raisonné include 836 works on canvas, and over 2,600 works on paper.

He was married twice, and had 2 children, Kate and Christopher, with his second wife, Mary Alice “Mell” Beistle.

Born to a Jewish family in what was then the Russian Empire, Rothko spoke 4 languages: Russian, Hebrew, Yiddish and English.

The artist committed suicide at the age of 66 in 1970.

In late 1935, Rothko joined Adolph Gottlieb and eight other artists to form “The Ten,” a group of 10 artists who protested the “reputed equivalence of American painting and literal painting.”

He taught painting and clay sculpture for 22 years at the Center Academy of the Brooklyn Jewish Center.

46 years after dropping out of Yale after his sophomore year, Rothko was given an honorary degree.

Markus Rothkowitz became Mark Rothko and obtained his American citizenship after living in the United States for 25 years.

Mark Rothko smoking a cigarette and wearing a hat.
Mark Rothko smoking a cigarette. Image courtesy of Bridgeman Images.

In 1945, Rothko had a one-person show at Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of This Century Gallery, in which the highest sale for one of his paintings was $750.

During an address at the Pratt Institute in 1958, Rothko provided a “recipe of a work of art”, with 7 specific “ingredients” for a work of art: preoccupation with death, sensuality, tension, irony, wit, chance and hope.

Rothko was married to his second wife for 26 years, until just before the artist’s suicide.

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