A special installation of nine works by Mark Rothko (1903–1970), long recognized as one of America's foremost artists, will celebrate the centenary of his birth. The works by Rothko are related to two mural commissions—the Seagram murals and the Harvard murals—which date from the late 1950s and early 1960s, respectively. Most of these related works have been exhibited at the National Gallery only once before, and showing them together in the open space of the concourse will create an opportunity to examine the process behind these major projects. This special installation also celebrates the 25th anniversary of the East Building.
Additional centenary events include the first American screening of a new biographical film at the National Gallery of Art as well as a special exhibition of Rothko's work which recently opened in Riga, Latvia, and will travel to St. Petersburg, Russia.
In 1985 and 1986, the National Gallery of Art received a large body of Rothko's work from The Mark Rothko Foundation, a gift that included 295 paintings and works on paper, and more than 650 sketches, which made the National Gallery of Art the most important repository and study center of Rothko's work.