At the center of the expansion is the stunning three-story Rothko Pavilion. The pavilion is named in recognition of painter Mark Rothko’s legacy in Portland – his home as a youth after immigrating from Latvia – and his connection to the Museum, where he took his first art classes and where he received his first solo exhibition.
The Rothko Pavilion was made possible by a first-of-its-kind partnership with the children of Mark Rothko, Christopher Rothko and Kate Rothko Prizel. The partnership includes the loan to the Museum of major paintings by Mark Rothko from their private collection; paintings will be loaned individually in rotation over the course of the next two decades.
“Our family is thrilled to enter into this partnership with the Museum. Portland played a formative role in my father’s youth, and we are eager to share these works with the public and give Rothko a more active role of the vibrant cultural life of this city. Our hope is that visitors will take the time to pause and engage with each of these paintings, and to participate in the process of ‘slow-looking’ that the museum has championed.”
Mark Rothko was born Marcus Rothkowitz in Dvinsk, Russia (today Daugavpils, Latvia), on September 25, 1903. Rothko and his family immigrated to the United States when he was 10 years old, and settled in Portland where he attended Shattuck Grade School and Lincoln High School.
Rothko attended Yale University in 1921 with an initial intention to become an engineer or attorney. Before leaving in 1923 he studied English, French, European history, elementary mathematics, physics, biology, economics, the history of philosophy, and general psychology. After giving up his studies, he moved to New York City where he attended classes at the Art Students League, briefly studying under Max Weber, who encouraged him to work in a figurative style reminiscent of Cézanne.
Rothko was given his first solo exhibition in 1933 here at the Portland Art Museum, followed a few months later by an exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Gallery in New York. His early work in landscapes, and later abstract compositions and watercolors, developed into his now signature style—multi-layered oil paintings with vertically aligned rectangular forms set within a colored field.
Physically ill and suffering from depression, Rothko committed suicide on February 25, 1970. At the time of his death, he was widely recognized in Europe and America for his crucial role in the development of nonrepresentational art. With a steadfast commitment to a singular artistic vision, Rothko celebrated the power art over creative imagination.