Connect with Rothko's immersive Seagram Murals
North American artist Mark Rothko gave this group of paintings to Tate because of his admiration for Turner’s paintings. In 1958, Rothko accepted a commission to paint a series of murals for the Four Seasons restaurant in New York City’s Seagram building.
He was interested in having a permanent setting for the works so they could always be shown as a group and in an immersive environment. As he worked on the murals, Rothko increasingly concentrated on a sombre palette of reds, browns and blacks. A critic who visited his studio described the colours as ‘darkly luminous’.
Rothko wished to create a deep connection between the viewer and his paintings. He stated:
I am interested only in expressing basic human emotions – tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on.
As his ambitions for the works grew, he no longer saw the restaurant as an appropriate location for his paintings. In 1960, he cancelled the contract.
In 1969, Rothko gave a group of the paintings intended for this commission to Tate. This display at Tate Britain celebrates his gift and the paintings’ arrival in London in 1970, fifty years ago. He presented the paintings to Tate largely because of his admiration for the work of JMW Turner (1775–1851). He hoped they would be displayed in a gallery next to those that house the Turner Bequest.