Mark Rothko (1903-1970) was among the most remarkable artists of the twentieth century. This exhibition, the first ever to be mounted in Austria, presents a survey of his artistic career from his early figurative paintings of the 1930s, through the transitional years of the 1940s to the groundbreaking mature works of the 1950s and 60s. The artist’s children, Kate and Christopher have been closely involved in the project from its very beginning, and have themselves kindly lent a number of paintings from the family collection; major loans have also been secured from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., the Fondation Beyeler, Riehen, the Jewish Museum, New York, Kunstmuseum Bern and Kunstmuseum Basel. Presented within the Kunsthistorisches Museum, whose own historical collections trace some five thousand years of human creativity from Ancient Egypt to the Baroque, the exhibition provides a unique opportunity to examine Rothko’s deep and sustained interest in the art of the past. From his visits as a student to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and his first encounters with Rembrandt, Vermeer and classical art and architecture, to his trips to Europe to see its churches, chapels and Old Master painting collections, Rothko dedicated himself to the study of historical art and architecture. In the words of the critic John Berger, he looked back »in a way such as no painter before had ever done«. When Rothko broke with tradition in the latter part of his life to create a radical new form of artistic expression, he did so with extensive knowledge and respect for what had come before. He was the most serious of artists, and addressed the most serious of subjects: the sacred, the spiritual, the tragic and the timeless. With unsparing intensity and a total commitment to risk, he created a form of human drama that continues to move and inspire artists, curators and the general public to this day.