Mark Rothko: Toward the Light in the Chapel by Annie Cohen-Solal
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Why Mark Rothko Dropped Out of Yale
An excerpt from Annie Cohen-Solal’s new biography of one of the most influential American painters of the 20th century
How could a young man of 18 years—the image of a 1920s intellectual, with a high forehead, an intense gaze behind round glasses, and a combed-back mass of wavy black hair—who entered with such enthusiasm into Yale, this temple of knowledge, so severely flounder there? Why would this voracious student, craving intellectual debates, so confident in his abilities after his string of successes in Portland, Oregon, completely fail to find his place at this elite university? Why did the trajectory of Marcus Rothkowitz, who for the past eight years had been thrown into a dynamic, frenzied integration into American society—from Dvinsk to Portland—falter so easily at this point, in less than two years in New Haven, which would surely seem to have so much to offer him? Was it due to his youthful idealism and ingenuousness? To a matter of timing? Not just that. What, then, lay behind the dismal failures of his freshman and sophomore years at Yale?
Read full excerpt at Tablet Magazine