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Mark Rothko – Abstract Expressionist Painter from Portland Oregon

Mark Rothko

Although Mark Rothko died in 1970 at the age of 66, his legacy lives on, especially his connection to Portland Oregon.

Born in Russia in 1903, Mark Rothko (born Markus Yakovlevich Rotkovich) was brought to the United States in 1913 because his father feared that his older sons were going to be drafted into the Russian Army.

Life in the early 20th Century was hard for Rothko’s family and everyone had to work, including Mark, and he ended up selling newspapers at a young age while going to school

Driven by his parents to live a better life than they did Rothko learned 4 languages and graduated from Lincoln High School.

Early Art Career

After finishing high school in Portland Oregon Mark Rothko briefly went to Yale before moving to New York where he started working in the garment district. This was effectively the beginning of his art career because from here he would connect with other great artists of his generation like Paul Klee, Milton Avery and of course willem de kooning.

During his early years as an artist Rothko also was heavily involved in organizing an artist’s union, he gained admiration for his work from his peers, and lifelong connections with artists there since he would paint during the day and meet with artists to discuss their artwork at night.


Portland Oregon

As he grew older, and married, Rothko maintained a connection with Portland Oregon and frequently traveled back to his American Home town especially when he had his first solo exhibition here in 1933.

Over the years many art historians have speculated about whether Mark Rothko hated Ported but he continued coming back to the city anyway because his family lived here and as he became famous local collectors in Portland fell in love with his work.

Today you can view Mark Rothko’s paintings at the Portland Art Museum and many other museums around the world.

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