Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Rothko influence

First let me assure you I am in no way an Art historian or an expert on Rothko or Abstract Expressionism. These are bits of information I have gathered while attempting to learn a bit more about what I want to say with this piece I am constructing.
Mark Rothko was one of the first American artist to be identified as an Abstract Expressionist although he never categorized himself as one. As he developed as an artist he started to use large blocks of color (Color Field Theory) in which the blocks of color were created to evoke a feeling.
This is a quote directly from Wikipedia about Color Field Theory:

Color Field painting is a style of abstract painting that emerged in New York City during the 1940s and 1950s. It was inspired by European modernism and closely related to Abstract Expressionism, while many of its notable early proponents were among the pioneering Abstract Expressionists. Color Field is characterized primarily by large fields of flat, solid color spread across or stained into the canvas creating areas of unbroken surface and a flat picture plane. The movement places less emphasis on gesture, brushstrokes and action in favour of an overall consistency of form and process. In color field painting "color is freed from objective context and becomes the subject in itself."

I will again quote from the Wikipedia about Rothko's "Multiform" pieces:



The year 1946 saw the creation of Rothko's transitional "multiform" paintings. The term "multiform" has been applied by art critics; this word was never used by Rothko himself, yet it is an accurate description of these paintings. Several of them, including No. 18 and Untitled (both 1948), are less transitional than fully realized. Rothko himself described these paintings as possessing a more organic structure and as self-contained units of human expression. For him, these blurred blocks of various colors, devoid of landscape or the human figure, let alone myth and symbol, possessed their own life force. They contained a "breath of life" he found lacking in most figurative painting of the era. The "multiforms" brought Rothko to a realization of his mature, signature style, the only style Rothko would never fully abandon.

I felt I had to do a little introduction of this style of art and the philosophy behind it to explain the reasons I am adopting it in this piece.

3 comments:

  1. I love Rothko's paintings and the book you've referred before, so I'm really looking forward to see how you turn these inspirations into a palpable project. A step-by-step introduction into a creative process holds a never-ending fascination for me.

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  2. Several years ago, daughter Carrie (who is a very modern designer of interiors at an architectural firm) and i were in the Los Angeles museum of Art where we saw a fabulous exhibit of Klimt. In the regular exhibits there were two Rothkos. I stood before one and said to her, I could do that. She was immediately upset with me, no way, she says, there is so much that that means that you don't understand. Hmmm. I said.

    At the second one, I again said I felt I could do that, and she grew very irritated with me again.

    When we stood in front of the lying in repose figure birthing monsters from her underarms, I had learned my lesson and said absolutely nothing, only smiled!

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