“Like the Cubists before them, the abstractionists felt a beautiful thing in perceiving how the medium can, of its own accord, carry one into the unknown, that is to the discovery of new structures. What an inspiration the medium is.”

–Mark Rothko

#10, purchased by Virginia Wright in 1951, is a mesmerizing example of one of Mark Rothko’s signature compositions. Rothko arrived at these vertical arrangements in the late 1940s after experimenting with different figurative styles of painting. His evocative cloud-like fields of color are not an end in themselves but a vehicle for spiritual reflection.

Rothko’s immersive abstract paintings drench the canvas in radiant hues. His unique approach became known as color field painting—yet Rothko was resistant to any limiting classification of his paintings.

“It seemed very big and very expensive to me at 22 years old,” says Virginia Wright of the painting. “It was sold by Betty Parsons but she told me I would have to go talk to him about buying his painting. His art was such an integral part of his life that he held carefully on to how it went out into the world and who owned it.”

Image: #10, 1952, Mark Rothko, oil on canvas, 81 3/4 x 42 1/2 x 2 1/4 in., Gift of the Virginia and Bagley Wright Collection, 91.98.