Mark Rothko Essay

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The drama persists, though with diminished power, in “Rothko: Dark Palette,” at the Pace gallery (on view through Jan. Except for one picture, from 1955, it consists of twenty mostly very large paintings made between 1957—when Rothko abandoned the yellows, bright reds, oranges, and other high-keyed colors of his early-fifties masterworks in favor of blacks, burgundy, deep green, and other retentive hues—and 1969, the year before his suicide, at the age of sixty-six. If anything, they seem manic, with a will to prove the conviction that Rothko had expressed in 1956: “The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when I painted them.” Distressed by evidence to the contrary, he left off courting transcendence and started to force it.

The 1955 picture is dusky, but it retains a classic Rothkovian sizzle, with a lilac-gray atop, a sea-blue below, and a dominant black.

That the artist will have the spectator pause at certain points and will regale him with especial seductions at others is an additional factor helping to maintain interest.

In fact, the journey might not be undertaken at all were it not for the promise of these especial favors...

Throughout his career, Rothko was concerned with what other people experienced when they looked at his canvases.

As his work shifted from figurative imagery to luminous fields of color, his concern expanded to the setting in which his paintings were exhibited.

To us art is an adventure into an unknown world, which can be explored only by those willing to take the risk. This world of imagination is fancy-free and violently opposed to common sense. It is our function as artists to make the spectator see the world our way—not his way. We favor the simple expression of the complex thought.

We are for the large shape because it has the impact of the unequivocal. We are for flat forms because they destroy illusion and reveal truth. It is a widely accepted notion among painters that it does not matter what one paints as long as it is well painted. There is no such thing as a good painting about nothing.

Art Appreciation-Mark Rothko-Mark Rothko (Marcus Rothkowitz) was born in Dvinsk, Russia, on September 25, 1903, the fourth child of Jacob Rothkowitz, a pharmacist, and Anna Goldin Rothkowitz (4).

Rothko and his family (Jewish) immigrated to the United States when he was ten years old, and settled in Portland, Oregon.


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