Mark Rothko, No. 8, 1949, National Gallery of Art, Gift of The Mark Rothko Foundation, 1986.43.147

During the late 1940s, Rothko described the conception of a painting in which "shapes"--or "performers"--first emerge as "an unknown adventure in an unknown space." In the journal Possibilities he explained that these "shapes have no direct association with any particular visible experience, but in them, one recognizes the principle and passion of organisms." He later wrote: " to me is an anecdote of the spirit, and the only means of making concrete the purpose of its varied quickness and stillness."


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