Thursday, August 02, 2007

Rothko power

We manage to dutifully TiVO all episodes of Simon Schama’s Power of Art to try and understand the power of art as Simon makes a case for it through the lives and works of artists like Van Gogh, Picasso, Jacques-Louis David , Turner et. al..

I liked his take on the majority of the episodes so far and it taught me a lot about art history (of which I have no formal instruction). It was with a lot of anticipation that I awaited his take on Mark Rothko (Latvian-born American Abstract Expressionist Painter, 1903-1970), but after seeing it yesterday, I realized that I still did not understand nor have a better appreciation for Rothko’s works. I still did not see in it what Simon and lot of others saw…

Often, with the additional psychological layering of the life of the artist on top of the painted canvas, the work tends to take on additional sensibilities that appeal to our senses and we seem to get a better maturity for the artist and the represented work… Even after sitting through an hour of Simon talking about Mark Rothko and his works, I did not get it..

It must be me…

The following excerpt is from an excellent article on art and synesthesia… An interesting read.

Rothko's horizontal divisions of soft floating colored spaces are an invitation to enter into the depth of the color fields, and to become totally saturated with them. The undefined background envelops the viewer and evokes a spiritual feeling of infinity. The painting has an almost breathing energy. Because of the luminous quality, the colors seem to move back and forth, as if it were another living presence. Rothko created his own biology of art. By the layering of one experience over another, Rothko's paintings seem to aspire the emotional condition of music, suspending sound in color, by radiating visually as silent music. The sensibility of the color is real and abstract at the same time. Rothko himself felt that the works could express emotions associated with universal themes such as tragedy, ecstasy, and the sublime. In this paintings, Rothko meditated on how the origins of life could function as a metaphor for the origins of consciousness.


Note: Mark Rothko’s real name was Marcus Rothkovich. The name change and shortening to a more convenient Americanized form had me thinking of the following excellent op-ed piece in the NYT yesterday.



2 comments:

Tree said...

I love Rothko's work. I loved it for years before I even remotely understood what he was doing. It was a gut/emotional reaction, as it is for me with a lot of Abstract Expressionist art, and I just went with it and enjoyed.
The art museum near me has a great Rothko, I stand in front of it for long periods studying it and I'm never bored.

Sunil said...

Tree,
For some reason I did not find this. My apologies..
I will try again.
Sunil