There’s a wonderful documentary about abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko currently streaming on the PBS website. It’s called “Rothko: Pictures Must be Miraculous,” and it gives insights into Rothko’s life and his art.
There are many great quotes in the film, both from Rothko himself and others discussing Rothko’s work. Rothko’s daughter, Kate, recalled that her father often said, “A painting lives in the eyes of a sensitive viewer.” That was who he painted for — people who were sensitive and able to comprehend his work.
I like the concept that our art is not for everyone — only for those who resonate in a way that allows them to understand it. As an artist, it’s freeing to let go of the need for everyone to like my art.
Although Rothko’s large-scale color field paintings seem simple, they’re not. They’re many layers of color and texture that can only be appreciated by looking at them for an extended period of time until the eye becomes attuned to the subtleties of the piece.
Here’s an example of his work. This is Number 14 from 1960.
Rothko’s paintings are said to calm the angst and anxiety of our time. I think of my minimalist paintings in the same way, and it never occurred to me that I might be influenced by Rothko.
I had given up on my minimalist paintings, but now I feel a renewed interest in revisiting that body of work. It’s funny how a chance viewing of a documentary can alter the course of my art.
Here’s one of my minimalist pieces from last May. Do you see connections to Rothko’s work? Click on the image to see it larger in a browser.
“Seven,” 30 x 24 inches, repurposed acrylic latex paint on canvas
Where have you found renewed interest? I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts. You can share them with us in the comments section below.
With love and appreciation,