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Mark Rothko (1903 – 1970)


Born Marcus Rothkowitz, was a Latvian-born American painter sometimes classified as an Abstract Expressionist.
Mark Rothko
The romantics were prompted to seek exotic subjects and to travel to far off places. They failed to realize that, though the transcendental must involve the strange and unfamiliar, not everything strange or unfamiliar is transcendental. The unfriendliness of society to his activity is difficult for the artists to accept. Yet this very hostility can act as a lever for true liberation… ..Both the sense of community and of security depend on the familiar. Free of them, transcendental experiences become possible.
Rothko quotes
I am not an abstractionist. ... I am not interested in the relationships of color or form or anything else. ... I'm interested only in expressing basic human emotions — tragedy, ecstasy, doom and so on — and the fact that a lot of people break down and cry when confronted with my pictures show that I communicate those basic human emotions. ... The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when I painted them. And if you, as you say, are moved only by their color relationships, then you miss the point!
Rothko
..it was with the utmost reluctance that I found the figure could not serve my purposes.. ..But a time came when none of us could use the figure without mutilating it. (1959, looking back to the 1930s, fh)




Rothko Mark quotes
The progression of a painter’s work, as it travels in time from point to point, will be toward clarity: toward the elimination of all obstacles between the painter and the idea, and between the idea and the observer. As examples of such obstacles, I give (among others) memory, history or geometry, which are swamps of generalization from which one might pull out parodies of ideas (which are ghosts) but never an idea in itself. To achieve this clarity is, inevitably, to be understood.
Rothko Mark
The most important tool the artist fashions through constant practice is the faith in his ability to produce miracles when they are needed. Pictures must be miraculous; the instant one is completed, the intimacy between the creation and the creator is ended. He is an outsider. The picture must be for him, as for anyone experiencing it later, a revelation, an unexpected and unprecedented resolution of an eternally familiar need.
Mark Rothko quotes
A painting is not about an experience. It is an experience.
Mark Rothko
- They move with internal freedom, and without need to conform with or to violate what is probable in the familiar world.
Rothko Mark quotes
I think of my pictures as dramas; the shapes in the pictures are the performers. They have been created from the need for a group of actors who are able to move dramatically without embarrassment and execute gestures without shame. Neither the action nor the actors can be anticipated, or described in advance. They begin a an unknown adventure in an unknown space.. ..Ideas and plans that existed in the mind at the start were simply the doorway through which one left the world in which they occur. The great cubist pictures thus transcend and belie the implications of the cubist program.
Rothko
- They have no direct association with any particular visible experience, but in them one recognizes the principle and passion of organisms.
Rothko Mark
We are concerned with similar states of consciousness and relationship to the world.. ..If previous abstractions paralleled the scientific and objective preoccupations of our times, ours are finding a pictoral equivalent for man’s new knowledge and consciousness of his more complex inner self.
Mark Rothko
For me, Still’s pictorial dramas are an extension of the Greek Persephone myth. As he himself has expressed it, his paintings are ‘of the Earth, the Damned, and of the Recreated’ Every shape becomes an organic entity, inviting the multiplicity of associations inherent in all living things. To me they form a theogony of the most elementary consciousness, hardly aware of itself beyond the will to live – a profound and moving experience. (1946, catalogue introduction for the first one-man-show of Clyfford Still)




Mark Rothko quotes
I use colors that have already been experienced through the light of day and through the state of mind of the total man. In other words, my colors are not colors that are laboratory tools which are isolated from all accidentals or impurities so that they have a specified identity or purity.
Mark Rothko
- They are organisms with volition and a passion for self-assertion.
Rothko quotes
There is no such thing as a good painting about nothing.
Rothko Mark
I paint very large pictures. I realize that historically the function of painting large pictures is painting something very grandiose and pompous. The reason I paint them however, - I think it applies to other painters I know -, is precisely because I want to be very intimate and human. To paint a small picture is to place yourself outside your experience, to look upon an experience as a stereopticon view or with a reducing glass. However you paint the lager picture, you are in it. It isn’t something you command.
Rothko Mark quotes
I do not believe that there was ever a question of being abstract or representational. It is really a matter of ending this silence and solitude, of breathing, and stretching one’s arms again transcendental experiences became possible.
Mark Rothko
It's a risky business to send a picture out into the world. How often it must be impaired by the eyes of the unfeeling and the cruelty of the impotent who could extend their affliction universally!
Mark Rothko quotes
I hope to paint something that will ruin the appetite of every son of a bitch who ever eats in that room.
Mark Rothko
I will say without reservations that from my point of view there can be no abstractions. Any shape or area that has not the pulsating concreteness of real flesh and bones, its vulnerability to pleasure or pain is nothing at all. Any picture that does not provide the environment in which the breath of life can be drawn does not interest me.
Rothko Mark
It is a widely accepted notion among painters that it does not matter what one paints as long as it is well painted. This is the essence of academism. There is no such thing as good painting about nothing. We assert that only that subject matter is valid which is tragic and timeless. That is why we profess spiritual kinship with primitive and archaic art.


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