Light Red Over Black

Mark Rothko Light Red Over Black


‘I’m interested only in expressing the basic human emotions – tragedy, ecstasy, doom and so on – and the fact that lots of people break down and cry when confronted with my pictures shows that I communicate with these basic emotions.’

Mark Rothko painted in a sombre way; his pictures demand silence and the complete absorption of the spectator.

Light Red over Black is huge, and the texture looks dyed not painted; the effect is one of shimmering grandeur. The austere simplicity of the forms contrasts with the opulent colour; the result is a subtle throbbing glow. Looking at a Rothko painting is like looking into a luminous void.

In 1970 he ingested barbiturates and cut the artery in his right arm. He was found in a pool of his own blood, he left no note.


Light Red over Black, 1957, © Kate Rothko Prizel and Christopher Rothko

Light Red over Black is housed at Tate Modern.

-Megan Conery

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