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The entrance to the subway

Painting, 1938, 86.4×117.5 cm

Description of the artwork «The entrance to the subway»

Mark Rothko "Subway entrance" written long before he invented his own unique and unmistakable handwriting. And even though the first experiments of the artist with his famous color fields will be ten years on the paintings of the series "Scenes in the subway" has seen the maturation of the brand style: the color and method of application.

During work on a cycle Rothko was involved in the state organization dealing with the problems of the great depression in the United States. Artists and architects contribute to the maintenance of public buildings. In addition to Mark Rothko, this work was done by many of his colleagues, among whom were such future luminaries of abstract expressionism as Jackson Pollockand Willem de Kooning.

Critics unanimously find in sketches from the subway echoes of the Depression. The people pictured monotonous outstretched disembodied ghosts without faces, the space around them constricted and claustrophobic, there is literally no air (1, 2). Lack of eye contact with the characters creates an impression of isolation and helplessness is characteristic of the attitude of Americans in those years.

In fairness it should be noted that Rothko's paintings are often caused discomfort to the great depression, and after it (1, 2, 3). If the us economy is gradually beginning to get out of it by the end of 1930-ies the artist during his life only the more she immersed.

In 1936, Rothko was working on a book about the principles of modernist painting and its similarity to children's drawings. He had considerable experience in this sphere: more than twenty years he taught children to draw in the Jewish center of Brooklyn. The artist claimed that the modernist should strive to Express themselves without the involvement of the mind. The way of departure from the academicism he saw in imitation of the child's approach to drawing: "What work of art begins with drawing is already academic approach. We start with color".

Thus, he sought to free his brush from the interference of the intelligence to be transmitted pure emotion. Gradually get rid of the objects in his paintings from the depths: on the works of the series "Scenes in the subway," they're completely devoid of like cardboard figures that children cut out of their games.

"We are for flat forms because they destroy illusion and reveal truth"- with this slogan Rothko is looking for means of expression in color and the rhythm of alternating vertical and horizontal stripes. Columns, grilles fences, stairs and door openings, it seems, is given more meaning than alive objects in the picture. What will end this search, we already know. In the end, the artist refuses the image of the still, leaving only the Essentials – stripes and color.

Natalia Azarenka
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Art form: Painting

Style of art: Expressionism

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1938

Size: 86.4×117.5 cm

Artwork in selections: 9 selections

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