White Center, 1950 by Mark Rothko

White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose) is part of Mark Rothko’s signature multiform style: several blocks of layered, complementary colors on a large canvas.

The painting is from top to bottom, a yellow horizontal rectangle, a black horizontal strip, a narrow white rectangular band and the bottom half is lavender. The top half of the rose ground is deeper in colour and the bottom half is pale. White Center is often referred to as White Center (yellow pink and lavender on rose) and it measures 205.8 x 141 cm.

Mark Rothko continued to simplify the compositional elements of his paintings. In 1950, he began to divide the canvas into horizontal bands of color. Despite the frontal composition and absence of spatial illusionism in these works, the broad bands of color appear simultaneously to float in front of the picture plane and to merge with the color field upon which they are place, as in White Center (yellow pink and lavender on rose), 1950. A luminosity results from the repeated layering of thin washes of paint, which allows some underpainting to show through the upper coats. In each work of this period, Rothko sought only subtle variations in proportion and color, yet achieved within this limited format a broad range of emotions and moods. The photo at the top displays this painting’s supreme color choices, namely yellow, pink and lavender on rose.

The work was sold in May 2007 by Sotheby’s on behalf of David Rockefeller to the Royal family of Qatar; Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, and his wife, Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al-Missned. The painting sold for 72.84 million (USD), setting the record of the current most expensive post-war work of art sold at auction.

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