Born Marcus Rothkowitz in Dvinsk, Russia, Rothko was his parents' fourth child. His father, a pharmacist, immigrated alone to Portland, Ore., in 1910. In 1913, the family was reunited, but Rothko's father died of colon cancer a year later. Rothko began sketching as a teenager and, an accomplished student, received a scholarship to attend Yale in 1921. When his scholarship was not renewed, he left the university and enrolled in the Art Students League in New York. The relationship he then developed with the painter Milton Avery was central to his artistic development. After a detour through surrealism, he arrived at his signature style in the late 1940s (example shown here) and achieved wide recognition for his work in the 1950s. In a lecture he gave in 1958, he declared that a meaningful work of art must have, first, a clear preoccupation with death and intimations of mortality and, second, sensuality, a lustful relationship with things that exist. This is a far cry from Greenberg's formalist doctrine.