“I’m not an abstractionist. I’m not interested in relationships of color or form or anything else. I’m interested only in expressing basic human emotions–tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on… . The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when I painted them … and if you are moved only by their color relationships, then you miss the point!” –Mark Rothko
In the late 1940s, Rothko abandoned figurative painting and began experimenting with the large fields of translucent color that would mark his mature style and associate him with the New York School of Color Field painters. In these works, he sought to provoke transcendental states of emotion and awareness through a reductive use of color and composition.
In each of his paintings, Rothko spread a powdered pigment dissolved in heated rabbit-skin glue over the entire surface and then applied layers of thinned acrylic or oil paint. After the composition was determined, he carefully altered specific areas with a brush or sponge to establish precise relationships among the hues. The uneven layers of colors have varying degrees of reflectiveness, making the paintings appear to glow or pulsate.