Rothko: The Artist’s Reality

My first post are my rambling thoughts about Mark Rothko, prompted by the wonderful lecture I heard at the Portland Art Museum.  Mark Rothko’s son, Christopher Rothko, compiled Rothko’s writings on art, and the lecture was on his musings about the discovery, process, and finally, the ideas represented in “The Artist’s Reality: Philosophies of Art by Mark Rothko.”

Rothko at Portland Art Museum, image by

Rothko was, for me, a life-changing experience, as was Picasso and Monet.  Unimpressed in art lectures in school (I slept through them, booooring), I had never spent time in the art museums in front of images I LIKED.  I was in NYC for the first time, wandering on my own, and came upon a Monet exhibit at the MET.  The museum was empty; summer in NYC everyone leaves on the weekends because of the heat.  I walked in early on a Sunday to see a painting of water lilies the size of a house!   I sat down, and didn’t move for an hour.  I had never seen anyone paint light on water.  I had never known how large he painted, and imagined that he had nearly had to enter the painting just to paint it.

In the afternoon, I found Rothko at the Whitney, I think, but who knows?  By that time I was on a hunt which to this day, if I am in NYC I hit the museums looking looking, filling my senses with great art.  I had seen images in books of Rothko, 2×3-inches, and wondered why was he even in a book?  Anyone could paint THAT.  But there he was, one Rothko in a room by himself, with a bench near the back of the room, and I sat, again.  I felt filled up with his color, and felt like I was falling into the painting.

ROTHKO #14; thanks to Wikipedia!

ROTHKO #14; thanks to Wikipedia!

Monet I imagined had to walk into his painting; Rothko made me fall into his painting.  With Monet I was on the outside looking in; with Rothko I was in the inside.

Anyway, back to the lecture.  Christopher Rothko was intimate and lively, and the lecture was one of the best I have ever heard on art.  He spoke of his father’s writings on modern art, and I came away with a greater understanding of how Rothko was wanting to reduce the art experience to a simplest and most direct connection with what the artist was feeling/projecting.  I am now reading the book.  It delivers, combining two of my favorite things in one: autobiographical writing and art.

I now believe that people who are not art teachers should do commentary on art and artists.

Thanks to  for the use of their image.


About dkatiepowellart

hollywood baby turned beach gurl turned steel&glass city gurl turned cowgurl turned herb gurl turned green city gurl. . . artist writer photographer. . . cat lover but misses our big dogs, gone to heaven. . . buddhist and interested in the study of spiritual traditions. . . foodie, organic, lover of all things mik, partner in conservation business mpfconservation, consummate blogger, making a dream happen, insomniac who is either reading buddhist teachings or not-so-bloody mysteries or autobio journal thangs early in the morning when i can't sleep
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