Is Less More? Rothko and the New York Colour Revolution

A master of Abstract Expressionist painting, Mark Rothko (1903-1970) sought to make paintings that would bring people to tears. Like his fellow New York School painters Barnett Newman and Clyfford Still, Rothko relied on colour, texture and composition to define a new and daring type of abstraction that propelled New York to take the lead from Paris, Vienna and Berlin after World War II. This hour-long talk will examine some of these developments in colour and art, situating them within the broader culture and exploring the sometimes perplexing power of these pieces.


Mark Rothko, Seagram Murals at Tate, London

Mark Rohko, Holdings at the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

‘Abstract Expressionist’ holdings at MoMA 

‘Abstract Expressionism’, Art Term, Tate 

‘Colour Field Painting’, Art Term, Tate 

History of Bocour and Golden Artist Colors

Clyfford Still Museum, Denver, Colorado


Janet Bishop. Rothko: The Color Field Paintings. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2017.

Achim Borchardt-Hume, ed. Rothko. London: Tate, 2008.

Marek Bartelik, ed. Mark Rothko: Paintings from the National Gallery of Art in Washington. Warsaw: The National Museum in Warsaw, 2013.

Mark Rothko. Writings on Art. New Haven, Conn., London: Yale University Press, 2006.

David Anfam. Abstract Expressionism. London: Royal Academy of Arts, 2016.

Joan Marter, ed. Women of Abstract Expressionism. Denver, Colorado: Denver Art Museum; New Haven; London: In association with Yale University Press, 2016.

Matthew Baigell. Chapter 7 ‘International Presence’ in A Concise History of American Painting and Sculpture. New York: Harper Collins, 1996: pp. 297-345.

Josef Albers. Interaction of Color: Text of the original edition with revised plate section (Revised pocket edition). New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 1975.

John Gage. Colour in Art. London, Thames & Hudson, 2007.

Kassia St Clair. The Secret Lives of Colour. London: John Murray, 2016.

Regina Lee Blaszczyk. The Color Revolution. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press in association with the Lemelson Center, Smithsonian Institution, 2012.

Vance Packard. Chapter 2 (‘The Trouble with People’) and Chapter 3 (‘So Ad Men Become Depth Men’) in The Hidden Persuaders. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1960: pp. 17-37.

Charles A Riley. ‘Josef Albers: Color’s Dangerous Magic’, ‘Barnett Newman: Color and the Sublime’ and ‘Roy Lichtenstein: The Spectrum of Speculation’ in Color Codes: Modern Theories of Color in Philosophy, Painting and Architecture, Literature, Music, and Psychology. Hanover; London: University Press of New England, 1995: pp. 154-157, 174-180, and 185-193.