Mark Rothko: A Biography

Front Cover
University of Chicago Press, Aug 13, 2012 - Art - 707 pages
14 Reviews

A book of heroic dimensions, this is the first full-length biography of one of the greatest artists of the twentieth century—a man as fascinating, difficult, and compelling as the paintings he produced. Drawing on exclusive access to Mark Rothko's personal papers and over one hundred interviews with artists, patrons, and dealers, James Breslin tells the story of a life in art—the personal costs and professional triumphs, the convergence of genius and ego, the clash of culture and commerce. Breslin offers us not only an enticing look at Rothko as a person, but delivers a lush, in-depth portrait of the New York art scene of the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s—the world of Abstract Expressionism, of Pollock, Rothko, de Kooning, and Klein, which would influence artists for generations to come.


"In Breslin, Rothko has the ideal biographer—thorough but never tedious, a good storyteller with an ear for the spoken word, fond but not fawning, and possessed of a most rare ability to comment on non-representational art without sounding preposterous."—Robert Kiely, Boston Book Review

"Breslin impressively recreates Mark Rothko's troubled nature, his tormented life, and his disturbing canvases. . . . The artist's paintings become almost tangible within Breslin's pages, and Rothko himself emerges as an alarming physical force."—Robert Warde, Hungry Mind Review

"This remains beyond question the finest biography so far devoted to an artist of the New York School."-Arthur C. Danto, Boston Sunday Globe

"Clearly written, full of intelligent insights, and thorough."—Hayden Herrera, Art in America

"Breslin spent seven years working on this book, and he has definitely done his homework."-Nancy M. Barnes, Boston Phoenix

"He's made the tragedy of his subject's life the more poignant."—Eric Gibson, The New Criterion

"Mr. Breslin's book is, in my opinion, the best life of an American painter that has yet been written . . . a biographical classic. It is painstakingly researched, fluently written and unfailingly intelligent in tracing the tragic course of its subject's tormented character."—Hilton Kramer, New York Times Book Review, front page review

James E. B. Breslin (1936-1996) was professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of From Modern to Contemporary: American Poetry, 1945-1965 and William Carlos Williams: An American Artist.
  

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Review: Mark Rothko: A Biography

User Review  - Melissa - Goodreads

There was a lot of interesting information, but I felt it was too wordy Read full review

Review: Mark Rothko: A Biography

User Review  - Mary - Goodreads

I'm so glad I took the time to read this book. I have a much better understanding of Rothko's place in time and others he was connected to, which in turn adds to my appreciation of his works and also of the works of those artists he knew, hung out with, argued with, and created with. Read full review

Contents

Parnassus on 53rd Street
3
DvinskPortland
9
New HavenNew York
46
Starting Out in the Depression
81
Working for the WPA
118
Contents
119
AllOut War
151
Globalism Pops Into View
178
Rothkos Image
411
The Harvard Murals
445
The Houston Chapel
459
Rothkos Aneurysm
489
The Gift to the Tate
512
Rothkos Suicide
521
Afterword
545
Documentation
561

A New Life
206
An Art That Lives and Breathes
230
Rothkos New Vision
271
Recognitions
297
The Dark Paintings
329
The Seagram Murals
370
Notes
565
Acknowledgments
681
Index
685
Photo Credits
700
Copyright

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About the author (2012)

James E. B. Breslin (1936-96) was professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of From Modern to Contemporary: American Poetry, 1945-1965 and William Carlos Williams: An American Artist.

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