Sunday, December 24, 2023

Mark Rothoko Retrospective in Paris


Washington Post - "This once-in-a-generation Rothko exhibition is spellbinding"

"Rothko’s mature paintings, which date from around 1950, are — as many people know — composed of softly painted rectangles of luminous color. These rectangles have feathered, broken edges. They are like clouds torn from cotton candy. The rectangles are placed symmetrically. They’re usually oriented horizontally and placed one above the other on a vertical, more opaque ground.

Already, then, you may grasp Rothko’s interest in orchestrating contrasts within a format of extreme simplicity: Horizontal vs. vertical. Translucent vs. opaque. The hard edges of the stretched canvas vs. soft-edged, floating lozenges.

Howard Devree, a skeptical early reviewer, compared Rothko’s paintings to “a set of swatches prepared by a house painter for a housewife who cannot make up her mind.” (Ah, the 1950s.) Others understood immediately what Rothko was up to. He was trying to paint space and light, to make them portals to what he called “the exhilarated tragic experience which for me is the only source book for art.”


"This thingness can make his paintings feel very austere. (“We are for flat forms because they destroy illusion and reveal truth,” Rothko wrote in an early manifesto authored with Gottlieb.) But if you are in even a mildly receptive state, it can also seem luxuriant, radiant with complexity and nuance. And if you are feeling still more receptive, it might seem to conceal, as the critic Robert Rosenblum put it, “a total, remote presence, that we can only intuit and never fully grasp.”"

(On display at the Foundation Louis Vuitton from Oct. 18, 2023 - Apr. 2, 2024.)

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