How to paint like Mark Rothko – No 16 Red, Brown, and Black – with Corey D’Augustine | IN THE STUDIO

How to paint like Mark Rothko – No 16 Red, Brown, and Black – with Corey D’Augustine | IN THE STUDIO

(somber piano music) Voiceover: In the 1950s, Mark
Rothko explored how forms could float in space,
sometimes advancing toward you, other times quietly
receding away from you. Now by looking at his paintings, there’s a number of ways
that we could discern how these effects are achieved. However, Rothko was notoriously hermetic about his studio practices. We don’t know all that
much about what materials he used and how exactly he did it, but by looking closely,
we can learn a lot. Now how these forms
are liberated in space, how they even have this
ability to move via color is also about the way Rothko handles the edges of these
floating cloud-like forms. Rothko layered zone over
zone over zone of paint. Here we can a very bright
blue, almost totally overpainted by a dark burgundy. It appears that Rothko
often flared out paint, one layer over another and
as we look at the edges, we realize that there’s
kind of a buzzing sensation as these two colors
compete for our attention and almost vibrate against one another. To further allow these forms to float off and away from the surface of the canvas, Rothko often softened the
corners of these forms and here we see something
called a “turpentine burn”, where the artist likely
took some solvent on the rag and scrubbed back into
the surface of the canvas, blending all of those
colors together meanwhile erasing a hard corner,
which would visually locate that form in space. In addition to leaving
hints of these colors around the edges of forms, crucially, Rothko allows
you to see through veils of paint because
he painted so thinly. Now let me show you exactly
how Rothko painted so thinly. Rothko would add so much
turpentine to his paint, that he would stain the canvas, less painting on the canvas, but really pushing his paint into it as a stain. Because these stains are so thin, you’re able to read one color
quite literally through another. In thicker areas of paint,
you see the over layer. In thinner areas of that over layer, you begin to see the under layer. And because Rothko layered
color over color over color, any given zone is infinitely complex. Rothko thought that if the
viewer properly experienced his paintings, that he or
she would very often cry. We’re quite literally
talking about a painter who wanted his viewers to experience the kind of emotions that
he very likely did himself. It’s not uncommon for people
to be emotionally moved, perhaps even to cry
when listening to music. However, it’s very rare that visual art can evoke those same emotions. Rothko, if you will, is competing
on the territory of music, trying to evoke very, very
strong emotions through paint. The experience of viewing his painting is a very somber one. It lacks resolution. Although it’s very quiet,
although it’s a quite beautiful painting, it’s a painting that never has a finality to it. It’s one that almost unravels in time.


  • Isis Čepon says:


  • lllexoduslll says:

    Four; the canvas.

  • sunlogosis says:

    i seen the maroon one in madrid 2004. my 1st museum visit ever. never heard of rothko or any that wasnt van gogh, picasso, etc. i walked past, thought, "THIS is art?" i needed to figure out why. walked up to it abt 5 ft away. before i knew it i was 18 inches away. it began to engulf me, i started swaying and vertigo. i felt like i was in it. i had to back away before i fell into a priceless painting. i gave it another go and i was engulfed and stunned that paint has that much raw power. amazing.

  • MyloRen says:

    intro song?

  • teakey says:

    Why did you come to this video??

  • Skateboard Junkie says:

    Why is Rothko considered art?I just don't get it. His "technique" reminds me of a house painter that fucked up, and forgot to use tape. I just don't get it.

  • Kelly Jeanette Swift says:

    I would cry, too!

  • Sam Me says:

    People are saying that many cry in front of a Rothko. I've seen it live and did not cry, nor did the others who where in the museum. Also in this video the people looking at his art are not crying. When I saw a Rembrandt or a Heinrich Bloch I was so amazed, but my own opinion is that I'm not impresed by a rothko.

  • MyloRen says:

    Because they do not understand emotionally or subconsciously that's why.

  • TYLER OHM says:

    tee roll

  • Troy Maiden says:

    I can feel it. Amazing

  • Learner-Learns says:

    Your forgot to mention, Half of Rothko's work was painted by students he paid minimum wage. He didn't even do his own work.

    Rothko, like Warhol, is an artist in BS.
    Neither of them could draw or paint worth a tinker's damn.
    All this pseudo-intellectual justification is BS too.

    The only way Rothko crap make us cry is when we realize there are people with real talent who get overlooked because of BS scam-artist publicity-whores like Rothko attract dumb rich people with influence.

  • Liusila says:

    Are you two the type of people who post pictures of empty paper coffee cups in black and white, give them names referencing a piece of fringe classical literature or theater, and think people out of New York don't know anything about anything? I'm just getting the vibe.

  • Liusila says:

    haha, yes!

  • martart1 says:

    The narrative in this video is very subjective, even to how the surface corresponds with the objects it describes and there position in space. These paintings are ethereal and transcendent. There is no way to analyze their existence.   

  • TheStockwell says:

    Wonderful video, MoMA. The "DIY Rotho" segment at the end was well done. Judging by the comments below, it's obvious Rothko either works for you or it doesn't. Love it or hate it. And, as always, the haters are quite violent, the sort of people who'd happy to slash a canvas because other people enjoy it – and they don't.

    I'm an artist, by the way – very traditional and completely anti-avante garde. I hate – HATE! – the sort of stuff which wins The Turner Prize. My own idols are Rembrandt and Klimt. I'm a stuffy academic painter. I do landscapes and the trees need to be painted the way I see them. I use rulers and straight lines. That said, I find Rothko's work incredibly moving. I shouldn't. He's the enemy.

    There's no accounting for taste – even one's own.

  • Philippe Sauvie says:

    I am standing in front of one of Mark Rothko's favorite patintings…Matisse's Red Studio. It's all about ambiguous spacial relationships and uses a deep, sonorous and pervasive red to allude to a real space. The painting also, informs my own work but to different ends.

  • eilishella says:

    What a load of utter bullshit.

  • Jason Chandra says:

    Okay, I just want to say something. I am an art historian and an aspiring artist and I have a degree in both field (just for 'credibility' sake and saying that I am probably the person people would expect to loooooveeee art and every single art work). I just wanted to say that you don't have to like every single painting, you need to have your own view. If you like most of them, it's fine, but just because you don't like them doesn't mean that you "don't know art", it just mean that you don't like that particular work.

  • INGIN03 says:

    these painting do not move, the edges of individual segments represent how our loaded interpretations of colors interact, not how we perceive them in three dimensions.

  • aChosen Won says:

    Eh, it is what it is…I appreciate it…but to me it doesn't seem as profound as people make it out to be…when it's all said and done this is basically a painting of a color exercise on staining and blending…

  • Don Emigholz Jr. says:

    There is so much of this type of art that there is no room for anything new in oil paint. I mean ground breaking new, a new movement like cubism or pointillism must be thrown out into the art market now so in twenty years it might catch on or be discovered by someone that had nothing to do with it.

  • Leslie Pippen says:

    🙁 I hate you Mom and Dad! I wish I were never born! Spoiled ingrates think they deserve every god damned thing in the world!

  • cees vegh says:

    The same as there seem to be people who don't feel (or know the existence of) the beauty of let's say Strawinsky's music, not all people feel the beauty and depth of Rotkho's work. I feel blessed I do. His work now is exhibited in The Hague. Can't wait to see that!

  • Johan Scherft says:

    I just seen his work in The Hague. I totally missed all these effects, sensations and emotions descriped in this video. There is not much to see really.. You might as well stare at a piece of coloured wallpaper.

  • Chris Armstrong says:

    You only think it's easy because Rothko has done it and it has been successful. The equivalent of how easy it is would be for you to go get a paint brush and paint the next big thing. Looking back and judging how simple something like a reverse engineer completely misunderstands how complex it was to produce this in the first place. That's like a scientist proclaiming "oh yeah i see how nature did it, pretty easy".

  • Matt Wallbridge says:

    Viewing a Rothko in real life is nothing like looking at photograph or video of one. If you don't like Rothko you have probably never actually seen his work, so bite your tongue.

  • PSGRIGA says:

    Question for the makers of that video: Do you let the previous layers dry before applying a new layer?

  • Glen Anthony says:

    Rothko's works are so mysterious and melancholy. Inspiring. The music is Chopin's Nocturne in C minor Op.48 No.1, an artist and piece I adore as well.

  • John Bonner says:

    The more of these I see the more apparent it becomes that the fascinating thing about these paintings is the person justifying the painting as a good work of art, not the painting itself.
    Critics and lovers of this sort of art seem to be missing that what they are doing is meditating. They are focusing so hard on one item that they start to see subtleties that they interpret as profound and make up a narrative in their mind that justifies the idea that this is good art.
    What they miss in not realizing this is that the same effect could be achieved by staring at textured drywall, carpet, a patch of dirt or grass, etc. These paintings are not evoking responses in people because of a grand vision of the artist, they are evoking responses because some people choose to pay very close attention to them.

  • Harish Manjrekar says:

    2:55 i can see a face in the painting

  • MR PEEVES says:

    Mark Rothko has to be one of the worse artists in the history of art. The guy was extremely lucky to make a success, that's all I can say.

  • Steve Nardini says:

    Part of me feels they should have left it

  • Chase F says:

    I think the true power of Rothko's paintings of this nature separates the over-generalizers from those whose inclination is to find the beauty in the odd and to look for connection or tether. Frankly, it's a brilliant way to expose the ruthlessly critical, if not lazy, a-hole, while at the same time complimenting the aesthete.

  • PointyTailofSatan says:

    Many years ago, an art gallery in Toronto paid a small fortune for a Rothko. So a newspaper in Toronto had a contest with kids doing paintings in a Rothko style. The sad truth was that for several of them, when a Rothko painting was placed among them, almost no one could tell the difference. lol

  • ghostsoup1313 says:

    Could you do a longer more in-depth how-to of Rothko, as you did with Agnes Martin & de Kooning? He's such a fascinating artist and 3 minutes doesn't do him justice. Thank you.

  • The Museum of Modern Art says:

    Hey everyone, tune in this Wednesday, May 17 at 3:30 p.m. EDT for a LIVE Q&A with IN THE STUDIO instructor Corey D'Augustine. Corey will answer questions from previous videos, as well as from the live comments section. Watch live:

  • Sophie B says:

    I saw some of Rothkos work for the first time in the Tate when I was fifteen, and I remember audibly gasping when I saw them. Their huge scale and the richness of the colours was so gorgeous, and they had this sort of tranquil suspense (I don't know how else to describe it) that did make me feel really emotional. Yes, the concept can be seen as pretentious and a bit of bullshit, but I still love his work

  • fishywtf says:

    beautiful pieces of colored rectangles, im crying

  • Blue Apple says:

    I'm addicted to the way the presenter thinks

  • seoul says:

    Than he draws? Are oil paints?

  • Photography of Louisiana says:

    Wonderful demo!

  • cobraki00 says:

    Your videos provide more educational information than my college painting classes have.

  • 633r says:

    I saw these paintings at the Tate and they are massive and in the gloomy light it felt very strange and gloomy to see. I not really sure what I saw but it was amazing

  • jguo52 says:

    Just saw a Rothko in the NGV Melbourne gallery. This video helped me appreciate what his art was about and I was able to enjoy it so much more.

  • Katia says:

    I have a personal belief that abstract art is more for the artist themselves than anyone else. When you look at a painting like the first one, it's really not impressive. But when the artist sees it, he might remember how he felt as he made it, what inspired the colors, how the composition made him feel, or how the painting helped him get some sort of inexpressible feeling or idea that's special only to him. So…I don't wanna call it "not art," but I can't really call it "interesting" or "good" in my opinion.

  • Adorable Girl 15 says:

    I suffer from sleeplessness. And I always wonder what is the best thing to see before I finally gather some rest. I love your videos your voice is very calming

  • Stretch says:

    interaction and entrance

  • Stretch says:

    Part of the genius of Rothko is that his paintings reveal the depth of a person. A reaction of hyper-reductionism – for example, "these are just squares" or "a 5-year-old could paint that" or "what a load of crap" – is indicative of shallowness. A reaction of being further compelled – for example, much of Corey's analytical content in this video or shedding tears – is indicative of depth indeed.

  • Lis Engel says:

    I wonder whether something like this could be made with water mixable oils ?

  • Dan Means says:

    Could you do a more in depth tutorial on Rothko.. pleeeease. I want to try this but all he videos on YouTube are lame

  • Diane Durant says:

    Is it possible to see more instruction…the color combinations you used, the turpentine burn for color blocks, anything more!!  Please!

  • selcouth86 says:

    Why try to paint like someone else when you can see what you do with the paint yourself? Even if it ends up being mud.

    Anyway, at first glance, you might think this sort of art is bullshit, as I did long ago, but after that first minute up close you'll see there's much more to it, just as there was to the man himself.

    Back at the height of his popularity, Rothko was offered a lot of money to complete a series of paintings for a high-end restaurant. He deliberated over the idea, as he detested the status quo, but finally relented, deciding to use the opportunity to his advantage, making the paintings as bleak and confrontational as possible, disturbing any and all who went into the restaurant to fake their way through a meal. It worked too, as the paintings were taken down sooner rather than later. For anyone interested in the details, go watch The Power of Art by Simon Schama.

  • Marco Debart says:

    Mark Rothko is trash

  • IETCHX69 says:

    Mouth-watering .

  • Brian and Laura Jackson Pottorff says:

    We have enough Eric Clapton – play like yourself. We have enough Mark Rothko….

  • Angel Alberto García Herández says:

    To appreciate a composition like this, you actually have to know things. Some people just see a wallpaper, but as I try to educate myself on the contemplation of art, I feel able to proceed to greater questions. Like why red, and why that red, which on its own, is a color and a word that tell a story. The purity of that story, and how honestly it is told by Rothko, let me admire him more and more.

  • David Keith says:

    These paintings are too advanced for many of the morons watching this to grasp.

  • Mr. Chris Rodriguez says:

    That shit is stupid

  • Mr. Chris Rodriguez says:

    I bust my ass painting landscapes with lots and lots of details. Colors, light, shadown, etc. I can't sell anything, but his stupid ass squares sell for millions?

  • Wounded Ego says:

    I didn't cry.

  • marck ferrari says:

    This is too short!

  • Sohaila Rubin says:

    The best expression of Silent! This is how I aways felt about his painting! Silent with all its richness of colors, movements and emotions. Love his painting.

  • Carlo Alarcón says:

    The issue It is not how to paint, it is how to think.

  • Vale M says:

    This is probably the only abstract painter i don't like…so flat

  • Burak Hightower says:

    didn’t impressed even for a second :/

  • Matangaro Matangaro says:

    Rothko – one day I will see in real life a Rothko … And I know I will never be the same again after … What a pure artists soul he was … One of my favourites of all time

  • Ray Esposito says:

    I'm not on here to mock, the turpentine added to create like a thin watercolour wash is very inspiring.. experimental..

  • The Museum of Modern Art says:

    Tune in for a live Q&A with Corey on Wednesday, February 7 at 3:00 p.m. EST! He’ll be answering any questions you might have on artists, materials, and techniques.

  • Doppe1ganger says:

    You have to see it for real

  • Tarun Nayak says:

    Anyone can do it

  • Richard S. says:

    0:46 what's that painting in the background? 🙂

  • Maria Dininni says:

    did you add water to the red color?

  • Maria Dininni says:

    turpentine _ tramentina l understand

  • JiveDadson says:

    The paint on Rothko's paintings comes off like powder. That's because he used way too much solvent.

  • Sam Aleks says:

    As a painter, I don’t see the appeal in these. I understand the technique involved and it’s not that difficult to duplicate. Still, if people like it, that’s fine. It is what it is.

  • greenghost2008_Progressive says:

    Rothko is an emotional thing. You either have an emotional reaction to it and love it or you feel nothing. Just because you feel nothing doesn't mean Rothko's style doesn't have meaning to those who do feel things looking at Rothko paintings.

  • caty vaganay says:

    Hi Corey! I have often heard that a painting can be about the subject OR about the paint. Some artists consider that it is an achievement to make a painting about BOTH. What is your take on this? And how to make a painting about the paint? How to make a painting about the paint WITH a subject in it (as only a secondary attention seeker)? Thank you. Cat

  • David Henson says:

    I am always reminded of the organic quality of his color's interactions. For myself, it is the subconscious and the animal in nature. Great forces of instinct towards creation and destruction are at play. Human violence and peace are in direct opposition, and people become the casualties in the conflict. Rothko is an intellect of legendary importance because he used human nature as his subject. Rothko is eternal.

  • David Leas says:

    You or anyone else can not paint like Mark Rothko.

  • travis says:

    Why are MoMA's comment sections just nothing but people who hate modern art? Why are you on this channel? Seriously, how did you even get to this video- and why did you click on it – if you hate Rothko so much?

  • Daniel says:

    didn't rothko use acrilic?

  • marc atkinson says:

    My parents were both artists and dragged me all the time to see these stupid boring big squares of whatever paint the guy had left over. So boring.
    Then, one day years later I saw a huge blue Rothko. I felt like I was falling into the color, and I saw many many different pools of color variance. It was pretty shocking. Years after that, I tried painting like this. It was far harder than I had imagined it would be, and only now do I understand why this work is so important.

  • Norman Normal says:

    Technical details? Yes please. It's good to know how to counterfeit them.

  • tabot birhan says:


  • purplerains says:

    Everyone first introduced to Rothko goes "kids could do that". Then you actually see them in person and think "How could anyone possibly something like this" because.. some people say it feels like you can walk into it, some say it feels like it is moving, so say if feels like it has "sound". These paintings floor you when you see them.

  • Mark B says:

    All i see is paint samples on a wall..blending in or not its just colours basically…imo

  • Lis Engel says:

    I love this intense vibrational power of colors and the floating feeling of transparency of layers of colors and the soft mystery of the mysterious feel to the edges

  • Tony Binda says:

    Some comments are a mindset that I had. Over time my level of appreciation grew to the point where i started to craft some 16×20 and they are beautiful in my mind. Thank you mister Rothko

  • Art Vale says:

    For the most part; the use of complimentary colors seems to be the secret to this kind of painting.

  • Mike Dunkle says:

    please , new artists, stop trying to paint like the greats, and create your own wonder, your own vision, your own greatness…

  • Dark Globe Studio says:

    If Rothko's works are so amazing, why do so many art historians/experts/gallery owners/collectors/auction houses, etc. get fooled by Rothko fakes?

  • Felix Connolly says:

    Geraldine Fowley

  • Cezar Mort says:

    It’s so moving…..Can’t stop crying……….

  • Oziel Pruneda says:

    I’m missing an EP of this video like the ones of de Kooning, Martin, Kasuma, etc., in my life. Please make these videos a regular thing again. Please please please. I find myself rewatching these all the time.

  • Weird Guy says:

    I never found the appeal with Rothko, I see what he tried to do but I could never bring myself to like him.

  • Great Quotes Daily says:

    Always informative.

  • Frik Frak says:

    When girls try eyeshadow on their arm – Rothko

  • Elene Kaldani says:

    I'm so glad that RM mentioned Mark in his Vlive or else I would not know about this amazing artist. His art is so moving and interesting.

  • Juan Bosco says:

    So happy to discover your videos!!!, as a learning artist, I really appreciate them!
    ps: if you ever go to Frankfurt, come to say Hi to my gallery 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *