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Marcus Rothkovich was born in Russia but, when he was small, his pharmacist dad brought his family over to America then sadly died leaving them to survive as best they could. This left Mark multi-tasking furiously as he struggled to maintain himself through school and college.
In 1923 he dropped out of college then bummed around New York before studying art and becoming an art teacher, something he did on and off for the next 30 years. His artistic success didn't come quickly and when galleries did start taking an interest in his work he didn't help matters by being somewhat unco-operative. Sometimes he refused dealers his pictures because he feared they would hang them next to works of inferior quality (but wouldn't make them look even better?).
As his paintings became more abstract he stopped giving them titles and differentiated them by colours or numbers (Mark 1?… Mark 2?) because he believed words would 'paralyse' people's minds and prevent them getting off on the innate tranquility his work exudes. Some of his pictures are actually said to be so affecting they reduce viewers to tears (or maybe that's just the prices).
In the 1960s Mark's work really did begin to sell for big bucks but, perversely, the more dosh he got, the more he descended into despondency and despair and dependence on drink and drugs (and anything else you can think of that begins with 'd').
By the end of the decade he'd just about had it up to here what with one thing and another and, after painting some really miserable black and grey pictures, he committed suicide by slashing his arms. So, as van Gogh might have said to him, 'Art therapy, Mark me old mate... s'all Pollock's!'Copyright Michael Cox