MARK ROTHKO (1902-1970)
Art is an adventure into an unknown world, which can be explored only by those willing to take risks. (Mark Rothko)
This world of the imagination is fancy-free and violently opposed to common sense. (Mark Rothko)
I don’t express myself in my paintings. I express my not-self. (Mark Rothko)
Mark Rothko’s suicidal death meant the end of an era in painting.
Mr. Rothko died in the year of my birth.
There will never be another like him.
The first time I saw one of his paintings at The Art Institute of Chicago I was, quite frankly, overwhelmed and moved to tears. Mere words attempted to describe the life I saw and felt in his paintings only proved to be vastly inadequate. There is nothing like seeing a Rothko original. The sheer size is such that you almost want to fall into the canvas. I think I almost did….fall. I was weak in the knees. I was never the same again. Rothko inspired me to secretly want to become a painter…to BE a painter. It was a few years before I found the courage to pick up a brush and dip it into oil. I will forever be grateful to a man whose life was over before mine began.
His use of form and color are sublime. His art taught me to translate to the canvas that which I am unable to articulate or express in words. His work taught me how to appreciate and interpret art for art. His paintings were not literal interpretations of the world we see with our eyes or photograph with our cameras. His paintings were moods, and feelings, and deep, complex emotions. Mark Rothko spoke an unspoken language that resonates with my soul. It is a language which I intuitively understand. It is both a whisper and a storm. It is life and death.
One of his paintings just sold for $86.9 million dollars at an art auction at Christie’s in New York. It was simply titled: “Orange, Red, Yellow.” Even if Mr. Rothko were alive today…I don’t think he would have been impressed with the monetary value of this sale…not in the least. This particular painting broke the all-time sales record for an abstract expressionist painter, ever. The ironic thing is that Mr. Rothko didn’t consider himself an abstractionist. I leave you with a final quote of his. Interesting to me that in both life death, he was and is still sadly misunderstood…by most. Perhaps that is partially why his life ended so purposefully and so abruptly on that cold winter day in February, 1970.
I’m not an abstractionist… I’m not interested in relationships of colour or form or anything else. (Mark Rothko)