Synopses & Reviews
A book of heroic dimensions, this is the first full-length biography of one of the greatest artists of the twentieth centuryandmdash;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 artandmdash;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, andrsquo;40s, and andrsquo;50sandmdash;the world of Abstract Expressionism, of Pollock, Rothko, de Kooning, and Klein, which would influence artists for generations to come.
andquot;In Breslin, Rothko has the ideal biographerandmdash;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.andquot;andmdash;Robert Kiely, Boston Book Review
andquot;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.andquot;andmdash;Robert Warde, Hungry Mind Review
andquot;This remains beyond question the finest biography so far devoted to an artist of the New York School.andquot;-Arthur C. Danto, Boston Sunday Globe
andquot;Clearly written, full of intelligent insights, and thorough.andquot;andmdash;Hayden Herrera, Art in America
andquot;Breslin spent seven years working on this book, and he has definitely done his homework.andquot;-Nancy M. Barnes, Boston Phoenix
andquot;He's made the tragedy of his subject's life the more poignant.andquot;andmdash;Eric Gibson, The New Criterion
andquot;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.andquot;andmdash;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.
and#8220;Mr. Breslinand#8217;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 subjectand#8217;s tormented character.and#8221;and#8212;Hilton Kramer, New York Times Book Review
andldquo;This remains beyond question the finest biography so far devoted to an artist of the New York School.andrdquo;andmdash;Boston Sunday Globe
and#8220;Historically, [Mark Rothko
] is a rich work that beautifully sets out the New York art scene of the and#8217;30s, and#8217;40s, and and#8217;50s, giving a palpable sense of this complex, conflicted artistic genius and monumental ego, his colleagues and his period.and#8221;and#8212;Ed Gero, Chicago Reader
andldquo;Heandrsquo;s made the tragedy of his subjectandrsquo;s life the more poignant.andrdquo;andmdash; New Criterion
This is a full-length biography of Mark Rothko, arguably one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. Drawing on exclusive access to his personal papers and over 100 interviews with artists, patrons and dealers, the author tells the story of a life in art.
The first full-length biography of Mark Rothko, one of the greatest artists of the 20th century, tells the story of a life in art and the convergence of genius and ego, culture and commerce that defined the New York art scene of the 1930s, '40s, and '50s. 21 color plates.
About the Author
James E. B. Breslin (1935-1996) was a professor of English and chair of the Department of Art Practice at the University of California at Berkeley, where he served on the faculty for thirty-two years.
His lifelong interest as a scholar lay in twentieth century American poetry and art. His first book was William Carlos Williams: An American Artist, published by the University of Chicago Press in 1970. This was followed by From Modern to Contemporary, which the Press published in 1984. Mark Rothko: A Biography, which the Press first released in 1993 is his best-known book, and marked a turn from poetry to American painting at its most radical moment: the emergence of Abstract Expressionism, displayed and explored in the career and life of one of its masters.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
1: Parnassus on 53rd Street
3: New Haven/New York
4: Starting Out in the Depression
5: Working for the WPA
6: "All-Out War"
7: "'Globalism' Pops Into View"
8: "A New Life"
9: "An Art That Lives and Breathes"
10: Rothko's New Vision
12: The Dark Paintings
13: The Seagram Murals
14: Rothko's Image
15: The Harvard Murals
16: The Houston Chapel
17: Rothko's Aneurysm
18: The Gift to the Tate
19: Rothko's Suicide