The Power Of Art
Born Marcus Rothkowitz
Latvian: Marks Rotko;
(September 25, 1903 - February 25, 1970)
Was a Latvian-born American painter and printmaker. He is classified as an abstract expressionist, although he himself rejected this label, and even resisted the classification as an "abstract painter".
Mark Rothko was born in Dvinsk, Russian Empire (now Daugavpils, Latvia). His father, Jacob, was a pharmacist and an intellectual, who provided his children with a secular and political, rather than religious, upbringing. Unlike Jews in most cities of Czarist Russia, those in Dvinsk had been spared from violent outbreak of anti-Semitic pogroms. However, in an environment where Jews were often blamed for many of the evils that befell Russia, Rothkoâ€™s early childhood was plagued with fear, as he witnessed the occasional violence brought down upon Jews by Cossacks attempting to stifle revolutionary uprisings.
Despite Jacob Rothkowitz's modest income, the family was highly educated, and able to speak Russian, Yiddish and Hebrew. Following Jacobâ€™s return to Orthodox Judaism, he sent Marcus, his youngest son, to the cheder at age five, where Rothko studied the Talmud. This had the adverse effect of stigmatizing him as an outsider within his own family, since his elders were educated in the public school system. As a Jewish person, the young Marcus was therefore an outsider among outsiders.