One of the most influential artists of the 20thcentury, Mark Rothko’s signature style helped define Abstract Expressionism, the movement that shifted the center of the art world from Paris to New York. American Masters — Rothko: Pictures Must Be Miraculous, premiering nationwide Friday, October 25 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/americanmasters and the PBS Video app, is an intimate portrait of the celebrated painter whose luminous canvasses now set records at international auctions. Interviews with Rothko’s children, Kate and Christopher, as well as leading curators, art historians and conservators present a comprehensive look at the artist’s life and career, complemented by original scenes with Alfred Molina in the role of Rothko. Molina performs segments from Rothko’s diaries, and the documentary features clips from the six-time Tony-winning play Red. Great Performances will premiere Red nationwide on Friday, November 15 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/gperf and the PBS Video app as part of the series’ third annual “Broadway’s Best” lineup of acclaimed theatrical productions.
Over a career spanning five decades, Rothko developed his signature style: large, abstract color fields with luminous rectangular forms that balance depth, shape and hue through the delicate layering of many thin washes of paint. While Rothko’s paintings show close attention to formal elements, he was concerned with the way the paintings could represent philosophical questions. In his words, he was “interested only in expressing basic human emotions — tragedy, ecstasy, doom.”