Blog / Rothko Is Hot


By Christine Smith and Lisa Hafer

Rothko is hot. Right now no artist’s work is more in demand on the art market than Mark Rothko’s flaming hot and provocatively cool color-field paintings. We were flipping through May’s issue of The Art Newspaper yesterday and the cover story featured the royal family of Qatar who now not only own the world’s most expensive work by Damien Hirst but the highest-priced post-war work of art ever sold at auction, the Rockefeller Rothko, titled White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose). It sold at a Sotheby’s New York auction last May for a record setting $72.8 million dollars. If you want to read more about this, the full text of this article can be found by clicking here.

Rothko isn’t just making a splash in the art market; he’s taking over popular culture as well! Yesterday a friend called us to talk about the painting he’d seen on his favorite show, the drama Mad Men, which we thought was only popular with the 40-something crowd. In the episode he mentioned, Cooper, one of the head partners of the show’s Sterling Cooper agency, purchased a Rothko work for his office.  The rest of the staff, desperate to see the piece and form their own opinions about it, resorted to breaking into his office to take a look. It seems that everyone wants to experience a Rothko for themselves, firsthand. These characters, albeit fictional, were even willing to get into trouble to get a peek.

Fortunately, we had a chance to be a part of this craze and see a Rothko painting right here in Durham at the Nasher! Rothko’s No. 46 (Black, Ochre, Red Over Red) is currently on view as part of the traveling exhibit “Taste of the Modern: Rothko, Rauschenberg, Oldenburg, Kline,” open now through September 14. Click here and you will find an image of the Rothko work on display at the Nasher, as well as other highlights from this exhibition. The website includes all of the information you’ll need to plan your visit. But the online image of Rothko’s work simply can’t do justice to the energy that the piece itself radiates, so you absolutely must take advantage of this exciting opportunity and get out to the Nasher to view it with your very own eyes! Don’t you want to be a part of something this hot?

Duke students Christine Smith and Lisa Hafer are marketing interns at the Nasher Museum.

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