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Subway Scene Essay

529 words - 3 pages

Art History

\"Subway Scene\"


Mark Rothko

\"Subway Scene\" (1938), by Mark Rothko, depicts the inside of a subway station. At the front of the painting are two pillars, behind them is a staircase used by two faceless characters, decending into the underground. The staircase is surrounded by a cage-like grid. Behind the staircase are another two pillars next to a gate similar to the one around the staircase. On the left side of the gate is a wall where half a door is visible. Just behind the gate are two swing-doors and a booth with a man inside. Two men appear to be waiting in front of the booth. On the left and right sides of the booth is what seems to be ...view middle of the document...

There are constant floods of people coming in from the city streets, many who appear only for short periods of time, whereas, the man in the booth remains there for a long time, therefore his face becomes familiar. The people also appear to be wearing hats, this could suggest that it takes place during winter.

The artist, Mark Rothko, uses various shades of green, brown and grey to capture the bleak reality of an underground subway station. For example the sweeping grey floor and dull brownish walls. However, there is also use of striking colour, like the burgundy jacket and hat worn by the man decending the stairs and the bright green grid surrounding him.

There also seems to be a frame constructed out of the two front pillars in the painting where all the action takes place. It is also where the artificial light sources are coming from, like the booth, the staircase at the front of the painting and possibly some lights on the ceiling which cannot be seen. Everything outside of the frame seems alot darker in contrast, isolated and not so clear.

Mark Rothko appears to have painted this picture as an observer. Which is probably how the artist would like people to view his painting. From this perspective we can see some of the action taking place in a subway station, as if we too were observers present on the scene. From looking at the vanishing point, which seems to be high up next to a pillar on the left side of the painting, it is possible to see how Mark Rothko forged the characters and objects in this artwork.

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