Sunday, April 3, 2016

MAR - Rothko and the Void

This week I started reading a marvelous book on Rothko, my favorite abstract expressionist and one of my all-time favorite painters. Twice in my life have I been moved to tears in front of artwork: the first time I stood in front of Pontormo's Deposition of Christ, and standing in the center of the Rothko room at the Phillips Collection.

This book has been enlightening in more ways than one. The last paragraph of chapter 2 sums up my recent thoughts on the void far more elegantly and accurately that I ever could:

"If you look squarely into the Rothko void, however, its fullness becomes much more evident. There is nothing nihilistic about these paintings, not even the most austere late works. The human hand and the human spirit infuse these works, and in the simple act of painting, Rothko affirmed that spirit. If we feel that, it becomes easier to see that the paintings suggest depth, not emptiness. And if we see that, it becomes easier to say, "There is something there," knowing that the painting will respond, "Yes, there is." This exercise that we conduct with a Rothko painting is very much what we carry out each day more broadly in our lives: we affirm the meaningfulness of our existence." 
- "Ceci n'est pas un frigo." Mark Rothko From the Inside Out by Christopher Rothko, page 51.

Depth, not emptiness. 
There is something there.
Space is the place. 

More next week. Thanks for reading. Much love - 

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