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The Artfinder Blog

Happy Birthday Mark Rothko! 10 artworks inspired by one of the greatest abstract painters of all time.

September 25th marks Mark Rothko's birthday. To celebrate the life of one of the greatest abstract artists of all time, we have selected 10 Rothko-inspired paintings for sale on Artfinder: sure to inspire, and brighten any wall in your home.

Read more to learn about Rothko's turbulent life and discover works you'd never expect to be likened to a Rothko!

1. Rothko and Figures? Yes!

'Heavy Shopping' by Ashley Hale

At the beginning of his career in the 1930's, Rothko created a 'Subway Series' in which he painted people going about their city life. Rothko extracted detail and reduced the body into simple shapes of block colour. We love the way Ashley Hale does the same in her painting of a French couple outside a supermarket, capturing a disgruntled man watching a woman loading heavy shopping into a car.

2. Red Rothkos

'Heat' by Lou Hamilton

The warm, vibrant red tones of Lou Hamilton's large mixed media painting really reminds us of the deep reds used in Rothko's piece 'Light Red Over Black', created in 1957. Both paintings are classically made up of hazy rectangular shapes.

3. Beautiful, but not $86,882,50

'Untitled 10' by John Welsh

Rothko's 'Orange, Red, Yellow' sold for a whopping $86,882,50 at Christies Auction House! John Welsh's painting won't set you back half as far as much, but is equally striking.

4. Horizontal panes of rich colour

'Beyond (Heart chakra)' by Artswati London

Artswati London's oil panting on canvas reminds us of Rothko's signature painting style, in which he combines horizontal panes of rich colour on canvas. Artswati's painting is wonderfully spiritual and is about the Anahata - the Chakra, or energy centre - from which love, joy, happiness and compassion come.

4. Sensational simplicity

'Soul Strength' by Candace French

On 'Soul Strength' US-based painter Candace French said "I was inspired to create 'Soul Strength' after seeing the Rothko exhibit at the Denver Art Museum. I drew from his use of colour blocks and simplicity of one or two colours. I created interest and dimension by adding texture through mixed media."

7. Homage to Rothko

'Thank you Rothko' by Jb Lowe

When we stumbled across Jb Lowe's painting, the deep intensity of blue reminded us of Rothko's 1969 drawing 'Untitled'. And when we read that Jb had thanked Rothko himself in the title, we joined the dots!

8. 'Black-form' paintings

'Untitled (500 Lines on Canvas)' by M. Benjamin Herndon

Rothko made a dramatic move away from colour in 1964 and created a series of 'Black-form' paintings. Some suggest that these works reflect Rothko's depression, as he began to become plagued with illness. These painting, however dark, do contain astonishing amounts of grey, giving them real depth. Rothko's 'Black-form' paintings were displayed at the National Portrait Gallery, London in 2010.

Similarly, M. Benjamin Herndon's subtle abstract painting has been created by layering hundreds of lines of graphite on a black background. These lines create a shimmering veil that hovers over the matte, crackled surface.

9. More deep, dark colour

'52 Hours' by Brandon-lee Mansueto

We also love the way in which Brandon-Lee Mansueto's piece can be likened to Rothko's 'Black-form' paintings.

At 30x50cm, Brandon's painting may be small but it sure is mighty! Rothko had a different approach to scale, and created his 'Black-form' paintings to a human scale, insisting that they were hung low so that the viewer felt the physical likeness between the painting and themselves.


'To My Love' by Luca Brandi

Italian painter Luca Brandi's large black and bronze painting was created using acrylic and pumice powder gel on linen canvas, Luca's use of golden bronze reminds us of a drawing made by Rothko in 1969, when he was sick and nearing the end of his life. According to the Tate, it is believed that Rothko placed the darker colour at the top of the painting in order to prevent it being seen as landscape, a reference which he wished to avoid.

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