Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Mark Rothko

“The function of the artist is to make people like life better than they have before.” —Kurt Vonnegut

So true.

Lately I am drawn to Rothko's.  And I see them everywhere in some sort of way that seems like an odd serendipitous message from the universe.  I stumble across them on pinterest, or somewhere else on the internet, in a book, magazine, or even recently on a billboard.

When life hands me odd serendipitous happenstances like that I often wonder what it all is suppose to mean.  Lately, I am in one of those rare moments in life where everything seems to line up just so, even though I feel like I am in in the midst of constant chaos.  Do you ever feel like that?

Some background on Rothko:

Rothko was an abstract expressionist who absolutely hated that description.  He rejected that completely.  Rothko felt art was a way to express emotions or religious/spiritual feelings.  Rothko was known for his color fields.  His color fields were meant to express deeper feelings and emotions - things which are nearly impossible to paint, but he tried.  Rothko thought it was interesting that this is how children often paint or think about painting - when you ask them to paint something about how they feel - it is often an abstraction.  It is usually adults who direct children to draw a person or a "happy family" or a family pet to express happiness.  Children left to their own devices will usually employ an abstract technique.  And he felt that children's emotions are more pure and therefore, perhaps abstracted emotive paintings were also a more pure form as well, even when painted by adults. 

Rothko had very complex ideas about what his paintings meant.  But even though you can read pages and pages of ideas about what he was trying to get at - the bottom line is that Rothko wanted you to  FEEL his paintings.

"...only in expressing basic human emotions — tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on. And the fact that a lot of people break down and cry when confronted with my pictures shows that I can communicate those basic human emotions . . . The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when I painted them. And if you, as you say, are moved only by their color relationship, then you miss the point." - Mark Rothko

I've seen several Rothko's in person and I never fail to be moved by them.  And I think maybe being in touch with something in the paintings is something that just happens to some people - but maybe doesn't happen to others.  Some people really don't like abstraction in their art because they find it difficult to understand what it means. 

Rothko committed suicide in his 60s shortly after finding out he had some serious health problems.

Maybe in the same way that some people easily learn french, or understand math - maybe some people speak of language of abstraction.  I don't know.

Here are some of my favorites:

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