Francis Outred goes to his Instagram account to announce Christie’s will sell Mark Rothko’s No. 1, 1949:
I am delighted to announce that a landmark work of American Art will be sold at Christies, London this March following its unveiling in Hong Kong tomorrow and its tour to Shanghai (8), Beijing (12-14) and New York (22-24) in February. The work was included in Rothko’s seminal exhibition at Betty Parsons gallery in 1950 in which his now definitive artistic vocabulary of floating and layered horizontal forms of colour as emotion entered the Abstract Expressionist and Art historical lexicon for the first time. Harold Rosenberg called this show nothing short of a revelation and virtually all of the works are now in major American museums. We are in last chance saloon. Having lost his father at the age of 10 in 1913, his mother passed away in 1948 and this seismic event seems to have had an immediate impact on his art. With the rich, dark Prussian Blue at its heart, and the joy of sunshine yellow being projected forward by the underlying orange, ‘We gain a greater sense of space and light, looking through that surface as though it concealed depths and veiled radiances’ (David Anfam). From tragedy comes hope.
The painting has been owned by Rothko’s heirs and offered privately.
Update: According to The Art Newspaper’s Ermanno Rivetti, this work is not the one owned by the Rothko heirs and recently displayed at DiDonna.
part of a series of 12 works that were first shown at the artist’s landmark solo exhibition at New York’s Betty Parson’s Gallery, in 1950. Nine of these are in US museums, including MoMA and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC., while one belongs to Christopher Rothko, the artist’s son, and the other is in a private collection. “This was one of the first times that Rothko used this composition, which marks the start of Abstract Expressionism and the beginning of the key cultural shift for America,” says Francis Outred, the chairman of Post-war and contemporary art Europe. The work has never been to auction before, and Rothko kept hold of it until his death. It is now being consigned by a European collector.
Rothko and Rauschenberg to lead Christie’s London auction in February (The Art Newspaper)