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American painter Mark Rothko revolutionized abstract art by becoming one of the pioneers of color field painting. He expressed profound emotion through his signature compositions of hazy, colored squares on large canvases that occupy a viewer's entire field of vision, evoking what he referred to as “the sublime.” His vibrant, sunny paintings of the 1950s brought a sense of joy, while his final, darker works of the ‘60s signify his struggle with mental illness, specifically depression, that ultimately led to his suicide on February 25, 1970, at 66 years old.

Like many great artists, Rothko moved through multiple artistic styles before he arrived at his defining practice. Before his famous color field paintings, Rothko dabbled in figurative and surrealist works. Read on to discover some of Mark Rothko’s paintings that show how his artistic style progressed throughout his career.

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