Mark Rothko

From Wikiquote
(Redirected from Rothko, Mark)
Jump to: navigation, search
File:Stamps of Latvia, 2013

Mark Rothko (25 September 190325 February 1970), born Marcus Rothkowitz, was a Latvian-born American painter sometimes classified as an Abstract Expressionist.

Quotes[edit]

1940s[edit]

  • To us art is an adventure into an unknown world, which can be explored only by those willing to take the risk.
    • Joint statement with Adolph Gottlieb to Edwin A. Jewell, often referred to as a manifesto. (written 7 June 1943; published 13 June 1943)
  • We favor the simple expression of complex thought. We are for the large shape because it has the impact of the unequivocal. We wish to reassert the picture plane. We are for flat forms because they destroy illusion and reveal truth.
    • Joint statement with Adolph Gottlieb to Edwin A. Jewell, often referred to as a manifesto. (written 7 June 1943; published 13 June 1943)
Detail from Las Meninas, Diego Velazquez, A painting is not about an experience. It is an experience.
  • It is a widely accepted notion among painters that it does not matter what one paints as long as it is well painted. This is the essence of academism. There is no such thing as good painting about nothing. We assert that only that subject matter is valid which is tragic and timeless. That is why we profess spiritual kinship with primitive and archaic art.
    • Joint statement with Adolph Gottlieb to Edwin A. Jewell,often referred to as a manifesto. (written 7 June 1943; published 13 June 1943)
  • If our titles recall the known myths of antiquity, we have used them again because they are the eternal symbols upon which we must fall back to express basic psychological ideas.. …(they) express something real and existing in ourselves.
    • radio broadcast, together with Adolph Gottlieb, 1943
  • For the first time a subject is present, not by virtue of its absence, but actually present,, though its appearance is torn away, and only the structure bared. The Modern City! Precise, rectangular, squared, whether seen from above, below, or on the side; bright lights and sterilized life; Broadway, whites and blacks; and boogie-woogie; the underground music of the at once resigned and rebellious.. ..Mondrian has left his white paradise, and entered the world. (1942, on the painting 'Broadway Boogie Woogie' of Piet Mondrian)
    • Painters Objects, Robert Motherwell pp. 95,96, as quoted in Abstract Expressionist Painting in America, W.C, Seitz, Cambridge Massachusetts, 1983, pp. 128-129
  • We are concerned with similar states of consciousness and relationship to the world.. ..If previous abstractions paralleled the scientific and objective preoccupations of our times, ours are finding a pictoral equivalent for man’s new knowledge and consciousness of his more complex inner self.
    • common statement in The New York Times, 8 July 1945
  • For me, Still’s pictorial dramas are an extension of the Greek Persephone myth. As he himself has expressed it, his paintings are ‘of the Earth, the Damned, and of the Recreated’ Every shape becomes an organic entity, inviting the multiplicity of associations inherent in all living things. To me they form a theogony of the most elementary consciousness, hardly aware of itself beyond the will to live – a profound and moving experience. (1946, catalogue introduction for the first one-man-show of Clyfford Still)
    • Art of this Century, February 12 – March 2, 1946, Peggy Guggenheim Papers on the work of Clyfford Still; as quoted in Abstract Expressionism Creators and Critics, edited by Clifford Ross, Abrams Publishers New York 1990, p. 203
  • I do not believe that there was ever a question of being abstract or representational. It is really a matter of ending this silence and solitude, of breathing, and stretching one’s arms again transcendental experiences became possible.
    • The Romantics were prompted essay by Mark Rothko, 1947/48; as quoted in Possibilities, vol 1, no. 1, winter 1947-48, by Kate Rothko Prizel and Christophor Rothko.
  • The progression of a painter’s work, as it travels in time from point to point, will be toward clarity: toward the elimination of all obstacles between the painter and the idea, and between the idea and the observer. As examples of such obstacles, I give (among others) memory, history or geometry, which are swamps of generalization from which one might pull out parodies of ideas (which are ghosts) but never an idea in itself. To achieve this clarity is, inevitably, to be understood.
    • Tiger’s Eye, vol 1, no 9, October 1949; as quoted in Abstract Expressionism Creators and Critics, edited by Clifford Ross, Abrams Publishers New York 1990, p. 170

Manifesto, 1943[edit]

June 13, 1943 edition of the New York Times, brief manifesto: Mark Rothko, with Adolph Gottlieb.
  • 1. To us art is an adventure into an unknown world, which can be explored only by those willing to take the risks.
  • 2. This world of imagination is fancy-free and violently opposed to common sense.
  • 3. It is our function as artists to make the spectator see the world our way not his way.
  • 4. We favor the simple expression of the complex thought. We are for the large shape because it has the impact of the unequivocal. We wish to reassert the picture plane. We are for flat forms because they destroy illusion and reveal truth.
  • 5. It is a widely accepted notion among painters that it does not matter what one paints as long as it is well painted.
  • 6. There is no such thing as a good painting about nothing.
  • 7. We assert that the subject is crucial and only that subject matter is valid which is tragic and timeless. That is why we profess spiritual kinship with primitive and archaic art.

1950s[edit]

  • I paint very large pictures. I realize that historically the function of painting large pictures is painting something very grandiose and pompous. The reason I paint them however, - I think it applies to other painters I know -, is precisely because I want to be very intimate and human. To paint a small picture is to place yourself outside your experience, to look upon an experience as a stereopticon view or with a reducing glass. However you paint the larger picture, you are in it. It isn’t something you command.
    • Interiors, vol. 110, no 10, May 1951; as quoted in Abstract Expressionism Creators and Critics, edited by Clifford Ross, Abrams Publishers New York 1990, p. 172
  • It's a risky business to send a picture out into the world. How often it must be impaired by the eyes of the unfeeling and the cruelty of the impotent who could extend their affliction universally!
    • As quoted in Conversations with Artists (1957) by Selden Rodman, p. 92; later published in "Notes from a conversation with Selden Rodman, 1956" in Writings on Art : Mark Rothko (2006) edited by Miguel López-Remiro ISBN 0300114400
  • I am not an abstractionist. ... I am not interested in the relationships of color or form or anything else. ... I'm interested 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 show that I 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 relationships, then you miss the point!
    • Conversations with Artists by Selden Rodman, New York Devin-Adair 1957. p. 93.; reprinted as "Notes from a conversation with Selden Rodman, 1956" in Writings on Art : Mark Rothko (2006) edited by Miguel López-Remiro p. 119 books.google
  • A painting is not about an experience. It is an experience.
    • As quoted in "Mark Rothko" by Dorothy Seiberling in LIFE magazine (16 November 1959), p. 52

1980s[edit]

  • One does not paint for design students or historians but for human beings, and the reaction in human terms is the only thing that is really satisfactory to the artist. (in conversation with W.C. Seitz, fh)
    • Abstract Expressionist Painting in America, W.C, Seitz, Cambridge Massachusetts, 1983, p. 116

1990s[edit]

  • ..it was with the utmost reluctance that I found the figure could not serve my purposes.. ..But a time came when none of us could use the figure without mutilating it. (1959, looking back to the 1930s, fh)
    • Abstract Expressionism, Davind Anfam, Thames and Hudson Ltd London, 1990, p. 143
  • (I am) dealing not with the particular anecdote, but rather with the Spirit of Myth, which is generic to all myths at all times.
    • Abstract Expressionism, David Anfam, Thames and Hudson Ltd London, 1990, p. 81
  • The romantics were prompted to seek exotic subjects and to travel to far off places. They failed to realize that, though the transcendental must involve the strange and unfamiliar, not everything strange or unfamiliar is transcendental. The unfriendliness of society to his activity is difficult for the artists to accept. Yet this very hostility can act as a lever for true liberation… ..Both the sense of community and of security depend on the familiar. Free of them, transcendental experiences become possible.
    • Abstract Expressionism, Creators and Critics, edited by Clifford Ross, Abrams Publishers New York 1990, p. 167
  • I think of my pictures as dramas; the shapes in the pictures are the performers. They have been created from the need for a group of actors who are able to move dramatically without embarrassment and execute gestures without shame. Neither the action nor the actors can be anticipated, or described in advance. They begin a an unknown adventure in an unknown space.. ..Ideas and plans that existed in the mind at the start were simply the doorway through which one left the world in which they occur. The great cubist pictures thus transcend and belie the implications of the cubist program.
    • Abstract Expressionism, Creators and Critics, edited by Clifford Ross, Abrams Publishers New York 1990, Creators pp. 167/168
  • It was not that the figure had been removed, not that the figures had been swept away, but the symbols for the figures, and in turn the shapes in the later canvases were substitutes for the figures.. ..these new shapes say.. ..what the symbols said. (Rothko, explaining Seitz his new way of painting during the mid-1940s)
    • Abstract Expressionism, David Anfam, Thames and Hudson Ltd London, 1990, p. 142
  • The most important tool the artist fashions through constant practice is the faith in his ability to produce miracles when they are needed. Pictures must be miraculous; the instant one is completed, the intimacy between the creation and the creator is ended. He is an outsider. The picture must be for him, as for anyone experiencing it later, a revelation, an unexpected and unprecedented resolution of an eternally familiar need.
    • Abstract Expressionism, Creators and Critics, edited by Clifford Ross, Abrams Publishers New York 1990, p. 168
  • On shapes:
- They are organisms with volition and a passion for self-assertion.
- They move with internal freedom, and without need to conform with or to violate what is probable in the familiar world.
- They have no direct association with any particular visible experience, but in them one recognizes the principle and passion of organisms.
  • Abstract Expressionism, Creators and Critics, edited by Clifford Ross, Abrams Publishers New York 1990, p. 168
  • With us the disguise must be complete. The familiar identity of things has to be pulverized in order to destroy the finite associations with which our society increasingly enshrouds every aspect of our environment.
    • Abstract Expressionism, Creators and Critics, edited by Clifford Ross, Abrams Publishers New York 1990, Creators p. 168
  • I will say without reservations that from my point of view there can be no abstractions. Any shape or area that has not the pulsating concreteness of real flesh and bones, its vulnerability to pleasure or pain is nothing at all. Any picture that does not provide the environment in which the breath of life can be drawn does not interest me.
    • letter to Clyfford Still, undated; as quoted in Mark Rothko : A Biography (1993) by James E. B. Breslin / and Abstract Expressionism, Creators and Critics, edited by Clifford Ross, Abrams Publishers New York 1990, p. 170
  • I use colors that have already been experienced through the light of day and through the state of mind of the total man. In other words, my colors are not colors that are laboratory tools which are isolated from all accidentals or impurities so that they have a specified identity or purity.
    • working notes, undated; as quoted in Abstract Expressionism Creators and Critics, edited by Clifford Ross, Abrams Publishers New York 1990, p. 173

New millennium[edit]

  • I hope to paint something that will ruin the appetite of every son of a bitch who ever eats in that room.
    • of his commissioned murals for the Four Seasons restaurant in the Seagram Building, The New Yorker, 5 April 2010, p. 26

Quotes about Rothko[edit]

  • Mark Rothko was very conscious of his sources, both as location and as cultural heritage.
    • Stanley Kunitz, as quoted in Mark Rothko : A Biography (1993) by James E. B. Breslin
  • There is a moment of blinding light. There is a moment that seems like death, a paralysis. Then a new man, Paul, emerges from the experience. Rothko, the most famous example, changed his name, his wife and his style in a few months of profound self-questioning.
    • Thomas B. Hess, in Barnett Newman (1971)

External links[edit]

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about: