Mark Rothko’s groundbreaking No. 1 (1949, estimate on request), is one of the artist’s earliest examples of his mature artistic vocabulary.
Having never been previously offered at auction, Rothko’s No. 1 is one of the few works from the 1950 Betty Parsons Gallery show that remain in private hands and heralds the incandescent union of light and colour for which his work would come to be much celebrated. Of the suite of 12 paintings, nine are now held in major American museums including: The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (No. 2), The Museum of Modern Art, New York (No. 3), Los Angeles County Museum of Art (No. 4), Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (No. 6), National Gallery of Art, Washington (No. 7, No. 8), Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington (No. 9), and Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, New York (No. 12). The importance of No. 1 to Rothko’s practice is underlined by the fact that he guarded the work and kept it in his possession until his untimely death. A glowing vision of rich orange and lemon-bright yellow, punctuated at its core by a dramatic zone of ochre strokes upon a bar of vaporous blue and teal, No.1 paved the way for the transformative painting as mood for which he is critically acclaimed.
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