Wednesday, 17 March 2010

I'd Like to Copy: Mark Rothko

I like Mark Rothko.
There, I've said it and no amount of criticism such as:
  • there's no skill involved in his paintings or,
  • that he just slapped paint on to canvas, or the perennial favourite which never fails to annoy me:
  • 'a child could paint better than that'

.... will change my mind!

In fact I'd happily refute each one of those claims .... but rather than get into a deep and meaningful [verging on the heated] discussion on Modern Art right now .... I think I'll stay in the safe territory of sharing some nice photos and talking about colour ... and stripes!

Untitled 1969

This description is one which better explains what I find so fascinating in Rothko's work:

Color, for which Rothko's work is perhaps most celebrated, here attains an unprecedented luminosity. His classic paintings of the 1950s are characterized by expanding dimensions and an increasingly simplified use of form, brilliant hues, and broad, thin washes of color. In his large floating rectangles of color, which seem to engulf the spectator, he explored with a rare mastery of nuance the expressive potential of color contrasts and modulations.

I can still remember seeing one of his larger works, a vast canvas, at the Tate gallery many years ago [beforeTate Modern was even created] and my enduring memories are of having to keep backing away from it in order to take it all in in one go but of also wanting to study it up close to see how it had been painted, to detect the layers and to absorb the colours.

Today he has a whole room dedicated to him in Tate Modern:

A place in which I could see myself spending some serious thinking time! The works in which remind me very much of this oil painting which hangs above our bed which, sadly is not by Rothko, but which allows a similarly broad interpretation of its meaning just the same :
Since thinking about using Rothko in our 'I'd Like To Copy' feature I've been thinking how painting such as this:
Untitled 1969

.... remind me of the following photos I took a while back, by holding my camera against the window of a moving car. Please note: I was not the person driving the car at the time!

What do you reckon? Rothko-esque? Maybe? I think we must have been driving past a wall or something at the time - to get such straight lines and clear divisions between the colours.

Finally, I've recently discovered the blog
'Kris's Color Stripes' which satisfies many of the same colour and stripe desires I have as looking at a Rothko:
'Kris's Color Stripes' blog features items on nature, design, craft, surface patterns, vintage finds photography and what makes it stand out for me is that beneath many of the photographs there features a co-ordinating colour palette. Kris says:

"Striped palettes are here just to celebrate my biggest passion of all - color".

It's a blog full of very satisfyingly indulgent stripey / colour delights for me. I do rather love
a stripe or two. Plus it also puts me very much in mind of one of my favourite books of all time, yes, you guessed it Kevin McCloud's book Choosing Colours . I know I'm always banging on about it but I don't seem to be able to blog without mentioning my personal colour bible every few months!

So, how do you feel about Rothko .... are you with me on this one? Are you a fan of abstract art? Or not so much? Say anything ... even 'My child could have painted that'.

And do leave a link to anything you've made which you could vaguely say was Rothko inspired even if it's only retrospectively.

I'll look forward to hearing from you and your stripiness.

Julie :D


the green gal said...

Love this post because I love Mark Rothko too. Your car window pics are fab, must have a go at that myself. And as for stripes, my niece has a pair of stripy socks like a packet of Refreshers and I'm now on a mission to find an adult version! I have plenty of stripy socks but they're just not doing it for me any more!

Julie Kirk said...

Mmmm Refreshers! We'll need a photo in the Flickr group when you finally find some refreshing socks you know? :D

paperpocket said...

I'm with you!

paperpocket said...

Did someone say Refreshers? I'll just hang around until some turn up...

manicule said...

hopefully no one who reads this blog will have such utterly close-minded and cliched views about rothko. personally i have a huge silkscreen of one of his sea green and blues.

Anonymous said...

I'm a stripe fan too (oops, that nearly said ' strip' - just as well I read back!). Yes and no about Rothko.... Think your car stripes are even better! Print them out quick and frame them :) alexa

Anne said...

I'm definately with you!

Amanda said...

Are you familiar with BBC's Simon Schama's Power of Art? It's a series that profiles eight different artists, Rothko being one of them. The episode on him is great and really gets into the philosophy being his pieces.

Anonymous said...

I love Rothko's work and find art like his holds my attention far longer than others because colours are so in tune with our emotions. I have been trying to copy his work but never come close.

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