Mark Rothko (1903–1970), Untitled (The Subway), 1937
Oil on canvas. Promised gift of Elie and Sarah Hirschfeld, Scenes of New York City. © 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Though realistic in subject, this early painting presages the abstract color fields of Rothko’s mature career. The subway becomes ground for pictorial experimentation. The platform and wall read also as flat planes of color, and the standing commuter seems locked into a gridded surface.
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