Arts and Entertainment

Life & times of Mark Rothko: Not so simply ‘Red’

Performed by Stage Left in the month of April, the Tony award-winning “Reds” chronicles the life and times of artist Mark Rothko.    - Contributed art/Stage Left
Performed by Stage Left in the month of April, the Tony award-winning “Reds” chronicles the life and times of artist Mark Rothko.
— image credit: Contributed art/Stage Left

Celebrated? Troubled? Tragic?

Yes, yes, and yes.

The life and times of American artist Mark Rothko, and his critically acclaimed and controversial career, were all these and more.

Master of what became known as “multiform,” Rothko took his own life in 1970, but not before blazing a trail across abstract expressionism to seize upon a uniquely signature style, cultivating the use of rectangles and striking and somber colors.

Fame, and travail, followed.

So has a 2010 Tony award-winning play entitled “Red”, authored by John Logan and based upon a particularly poignant period in troubled artist’s career, known as the Seagram Murals. The one-act, 90-minute play first premiered in London in 2009.

San Juan Island’s Island Stage Left brings Logan’s drama to life in a four-week run of performances, 20 shows in all, beginning Thursday, April 3, at the Friday Harbor Fairgrounds Marie Boe Building. (Thursdays-Fridays, 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; Sundays,  4 p.m.)

Born in 1903, the son of Russian immigrants, Rothko, much like his contemporary Jackson Pollock, became one of America’s leading, celebrated and most sought-after painters of the 20th century. His “Homage to Matisse” set a post-war record when it fetched $22.5 million at public auction in 2005. Seven years later his “Orange, Red, Yellow” sold for $87 million at auction.

But fame and fortune could not spare the innovative yet tortured artist from self-doubt, despair and from his own

 

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