Monday, August 3, 2009

"I Am Not a Colorist." Mark Rothko

In Mark Rothko, a compilation of writings about the artist, author Jeffrey Weiss quotes the artist as saying that it was "not color, but measures" that were of the greatest importance to him. Obviously he was good at using color for his purposes and had thought a good deal about the effect he wanted his paintings to have on the viewer. He even specified that he'd like viewers to stand 18" from the paintings while looking at them.

In 1949 he went everyday to MOMA in New York after the museum acquired Matisse's The Red Studio so he could stand before it. "You become that color. You become totally saturated with it." Here it is. I guess you could try to get close to the screen but that might not help too much:

Are you a colorist? Does the mere act of trying on a label for a while work to prod you in that direction with your work? Does it feel too late now, in 2009, to talk about such labels? Is everyone "supposed" to be doing hybrid, multi-media, performance-based works involving found objects and/or bimorphic figures? (I remember going to a workshop as many as 3 years ago and being told to avoid using the already worn-out "bimorphic" in an artist statement. I didn't even know what it meant.)

Is your work more closely connected to the work of painters from 20 - 40 years ago, like mine, and does some of your work hark back as far as Bonnard and Vuillard? Does that make it somehow less valid? What do you think?

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