The Mark Rothko Foundation has presented 89 paintings and works on paper by the late Abstract Expressionist Mark Rothko to 31 museums nationwide, including two Washington institutions, as part of the foundation's planned dissolution, foundation president Donald Blinken has announced.
Sometime next fall, the National Gallery of Art, as announced last year, will receive the bulk of the foundation's collection: 285 paintings and 550 studies. Included in this latest announcement from the foundation, established shortly before the artist's death in 1959, are the National Museum of American Art and the Phillips Collection.
One hundred and fifty museums were considered for gifts, and the foundation's selections were based upon the museums' interest in contemporary art, facilities, location and attendance. Rothko originally stated that his work was best appreciated when exhibited in groups, and the foundation, which spent three years on the selection process, gave priority to museums that already owned Rothko works.
The National Museum of American Art will be the recipient of one circa 1930 canvas, painted while Rothko was working for the Work Projects Administration. A spokesman for the museum could not be reached for comment.
The Phillips Collection will be given a 1940s surreal watercolor and a 1960s work on paper. "We're delighted to receive these from the Rothko foundation," a Phillips spokesman said. "It's a reflection of the kind of recognition that Duncan Phillips gave Rothko when he set up the Mark Rothko room in the early '60s."