Mark Rothko and his Mean Reds on Broadway

A new production called Red is set to debut on Broadway on April 1st, the play is about none other than the Abstract Expressionist Painter – Mark Rothko.

Red was written by screenwriter John Logan, maker of Gladiator, The Aviator, and the Sweeney Todd movie, among others. The play focuses mainly on the discussions regarding abstract expressionist aesthetics that Rothko had with his studio assistant while the famous painter was working on some of the most revolutionary canvases of his generation.

Red is set in 1958 as New York artist Mark Rothko (Alfred Molina) receives the art world’s largest commission to create a series of murals for The Four Seasons restaurant in the new Seagram building on Park Avenue. Under the watchful gaze of his young assistant, Ken, and the threatening presence of a new generation of artists, Rothko faces his greatest challenge yet: to create a definitive work for an extraordinary setting. Red is a moving and compelling account of one of the greatest artists of the 20th century, whose struggle to accept his growing riches and praise became his ultimate undoing.

Rothko is played by Alfred Molina – a rare actor who conveys intelligence with visceral intensity. He makes you believe that what Rothko says, no matter how abstract it is, is of mortal importance to the painter. Molina has developed a specialty depicting 20th-century artists as he already played another formidable painter, Diego Rivera, in the movie “Frida” alongside Salma Hayek.

The actors in the play get their hands dirty throwing paint around on stage, the moment you step into the theater you are struck by the smell of oil paint in the air. The smell of the oil and the rage of the painter make Red an extremely powerful theatrical experience.

So, if you are in New York in the following weeks, stop by the Golden Theater on 45th Street and enjoy a glimpse into the mysterious world of the 1950’s Abstract Expressionism.

About the Author

Amitai Sasson of is an art world traveler on a mission to seek out the beauty and passion of the art world. As an avid enthusiast of art and oil paintings, he contributes to as Chief editor and writer.