Title page for ETD etd-04122010-111056

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Doland, Elizabeth Leigh
URN etd-04122010-111056
Title The Effect of War on Art: The Work of Mark Rothko
Degree Master of Arts in Liberal Arts (M.A.L.A.)
Department Liberal Arts (Interdepartmental Program)
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Clark, William Committee Chair
Mauck, Marchita Committee Member
Protevi, John Committee Member
  • influences on modern art
  • politics and art
  • abstract expressionism
Date of Defense 2010-03-24
Availability unrestricted
My goal for this thesis was to adequately illustrate the effect war can have on art and artists. I chose to single out one particular artist who lived and worked during a time of war and explore his life and work. My choice of artist was not random: I chose an individual who was particularly concerned about his external environment, and was active in the political and social issues of the time. My subject is Mark Rothko, a Russian-Jewish artist who immigrated from Russia as a boy and spent his life in the hotspot of artistic inspiration, New York City. Rothko was sensitive to socio-political matters and his involvement with politics affected his work. In order to fully comprehend the artist and his creations, I did a thorough investigation into the artistís life; studying his influences, exploring his philosophies, and examining his works. It is difficult to trace the evolution of the style and themes Rothko employed at certain stages in his life because the artist rarely dated his paintings. Only years later, when he made an inventory of his work, did he date them, but without records and entirely relying on his memory. Even so, I was able to assess his work and came to the conclusion that Rothko was heavily influenced by the war going on around him, as well as the aftermath of the First World War and the instability of the Great Depression. From this research, I can deduce that Mark Rothko was a product of his war-torn environment, of which his work was a true reflection.
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