Entrance to Subway

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Mark Rothko, Entrance to Subway [Subway Scene], 1938

As a part of Rothko's "Subway Series," Entrance to Subway depicts a lonely New York subway station, quite characteristic of art made during the Great Depression.

The 1930s, such a gloomy era for many Americans, produced very dark themed artwork. It is apparent that Rothko responded to this through the progression of his pieces. Entrance to Subway marks the beginning of Rothko's exploration into darker themes. His later work evolved into simple yet extraordinary existentialist paintings characterized by dark colors and softly blended lines between basic blocks of color. 

The people painted in Entrance to Subway are composed of undefined shapes, allowing the viewer to create their own meaning to the work. Rothko's lack of definition adds to the depressed and isolated mood of the painting. In addition, the use of dark, muted colors also helps to cultivate the desolation he wanted to portray.

Another way to view the situation presented in Rothko's work is to interpret the people walking down the stairs as abandoning the positive ideologies that were existent pre-1930s, while the people standing in the back of the subway station appear alienated from their surroundings.

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