This is an excellent essay to read either before or after viewing the play,
Mark Rothko was an unknown abstract expressionist when he won a plum commission - to provide paintings for New York's swankiest restaurant. So why did he pull out and give them to the Tate? Jonathan Jones investigates
Sat 7 Dec 2002
Mark Rothko was found on the morning of February 25 1970, lying dead in a wine-dark sea of his own blood. He had cut very deep into his arms at the elbow, and the pool emanating from him on the floor of his studio measured 8ft x 6ft. That is, it was on the scale of his paintings. It was, to borrow the art critical language of the time, a colour field.