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James E. B. Breslin research archive on Mark Rothko, 1900-1994 (bulk 1940-1990)

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Breslin (James E. B.) Research Archive on Mark Rothko

Biographical/Historical Note

James E. B. Breslin was born December 12, 1935, in Brooklyn, New York. He received a B.A. from Brooklyn College in 1957 and an M.A. in English from the University of North Carolina in 1959. In 1964 Breslin earned his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota, and in the same year joined the English faculty at the University of California, Berkeley.

Breslin's scholarly interests lay in avant-garde American poetry and art of the twentieth century, particularly in relation to Modernism. In 1970 he published his first book, William Carlos Williams: an American artist, followed in 1984 by his study of post-World War II poetry entitled From modern to contemporary. His third major book, Mark Rothko: a biography, published in 1993 after nearly eight years of research, was praised by Hilton Kramer in the New York times book review as "a biographical classic" and "the best life of an American painter that has yet been written," December 26, 1993.

Following the publication of his Rothko biography, Breslin was appointed chair of the Art Practice Department at UC Berkeley. He was completing an introduction to a catalog of Squeak Carnwath paintings with his second wife, Ramsay Bell Breslin, and researching a biography of jazz great John Coltrane when he suffered a fatal heart attack in 1996.

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