No. 64

7:00 AM

Mark Rothko, No. 64, 1957

Marcus Rothkowitz, born in 1903 in modern day Latvia, moved with his family to the United States in 1913. He continued practicing Yiddish, Hebrew, and other Jewish customs in a neighborhood known as Little Russia. When he decided to pursue painting as a career he changed his name to his famously recognized name today, Mark Rothko, to escape being denied success on account of his religion. After failing to echo the realism of the artists in his time, he began to change his style to that of something more abstract. This sudden change in style occurred in the early 1940s, possibly influenced by the events in Nazi Germany. Through the 1950s the Holocaust references grew further, Rothko even denied German museums the ability to display his paintings because of their role.

The colors in Rothko's No. 64 reflect those of the Nazis. Not only do they symbolize Nazi Germany's flag and swastika but the extensive amount of blood, death, and decay in the time period. The Ochre in the center of the painting has a little life within it. It could even be assumed that the Ochre symbolizes Rothko, safe from the turmoil in his new home of the United States. Even though detached from the events overseas, he still feels a part of it and its' destruction within him. His life sits atop the deaths of others who could not be saved. The black has inconsistencies of red and gray mixed within it, like smoke rising from a chimney.The undefined color change highlights the indistinguishable difference in that of life and death.

This summer I traveled through Eastern Europe, specifically Germany, Poland, and Prague. I learned extensive amounts and also saw first hand the remains and evidence. Every time I hear something of relation to the Holocaust now, I flash back to the moments I stood in the very place millions of people died. Rothko could not witness the occurrences, and unlike myself, did not experience the camps. Instead Rothko painted his feelings. 

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