Auction news: Mark Rothko

Mark Rothko,  Untitled,  1960.

Mark Rothko, Untitled, 1960.

Sotheby's will be selling San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) "Untitled", 1960  by  Mark Rothko,  with a US$35-50m estimate to benefit the museum's acquisitions fund. The sale will be held in New York in May.

The Museum will use the proceeds to fill gaps in its collection, with a particular focus on work by women and artists of color, areas in which it currently lags behind many of its peers. The sale of Untitled will help “broadly diversify SFMOMA’s collection, enhance its contemporary holdings, and address art-historical gaps in order to continue to push boundaries and embrace fresh ideas,” SFMOMA director Neal Benezra said in a statement.

An important work completed at the peak of Rothko’s career, Untitled, 1960 is one of just 19 paintings completed by the artist in 1960. This year marks a critical juncture in the iconic Abstract Expressionist’s career, following his defining commission of the Seagram Murals (1958-59) and his representation of the United States in the XXIX Venice Biennale (1958) – organized by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, which would subsequently hold Rothko’s first and only major lifetime retrospective in 1961. Untitled, 1960 is distinguished further by its connection to Peggy Guggenheim, preeminent philanthropist and patron of the 20th century.

Untitled, 1960 will travel to London, Taipei and Hong Kong, before returning to New York for exhibition and auction this May.