This morning Sotheby’s announced Mark Rothko’s Blue Over Red as a featured lot in their Contemporary Art Evening Auction on November 14th. From his critical year of 1953, this is the first work from that era to appear at auction in over a decade (since 2006), the painting will be offered with an estimate of $25/35 million.
Here’s Sotheby’s release:
Blue Over Red was acquired directly from the artist by legendary dealer and collector Harold Diamond, who owned seven Rothko works during his lifetime. The painting subsequently spent decades with Baltimore collectors Israel and Selma Rosen, who offered the work at auction in 2005, when it sold for $5.6 million. It has remained in the same private collection since 2007.
Just in time for MoMa’s re-opening, the work also has an interesting tie to the museum, as Rothko moved his studio to 106 West 53rd Street a year prior to creating the painting – just down the street from MoMa. The selection of works by Matisse in the museum’s collection would prove influential to Rothko’s artistic development – he spent hours in front of Matisse’s The Red Studio, which went on permanent display there in 1949. Works like Blue Window and Red Studio changed the way Rothko perceived color and the way he structured his paintings, which is directly articulated in Blue Over Red.
Blue Over Red marks the apex of the Rothko’s most critical period of development in the first half of the 1950s, during which the artist pioneered his signature style of abstraction. Testifying to the importance of this period in Rothko’s career, half of the 16 paintings the artist executed in 1953 reside in permanent museum collections, including the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and more.