Rothko emphatically rejected the reading of his work in merely formal, aesthetic terms, insisting that he was “not interested in the relationship of color or form or anything else.” Rather, he used abstract means to express “basic human emotions – tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on,” earnestly striving to create an art of awe-inspiring intensity for a secular world. Those viewers who broke down and wept before his paintings, he stated, had “the same religious experience I had when I painted them.”

Rothko emphatically rejected the reading of his work in merely formal, aesthetic terms, insisting that he was “not interested in the relationship of color or form or anything else.” Rather, he used abstract means to express “basic human
emotions – tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on,” earnestly striving to create an art of awe-inspiring intensity for a secular world. Those viewers who broke down and wept before his paintings, he stated, had “the same religious
experience I had when I painted them.”