Mark Rothko, The Omen of the Eagle,1942, National Gallery of Art, Gift of The Mark Rothko Foundation, Inc., 1986.43.107
During the 1940s Rothko's imagery became increasingly symbolic. In the social climate of anxiety that dominated the late 1930s and the
years of World War II, images from everyday life--however
unnaturalistic--began to appear somewhat outmoded. If art were to
express the tragedy of the human condition, Rothko felt, new subjects
and a new idiom had to be found. He said, "It was with the utmost reluctance that
I found the figure could not serve my purposes....But a time came when
none of us could use the figure without mutilating it."