Saturday, May 21, 2011

Life Imitates Art

Here is a pop quiz for you art lovers! Which of these two is a Mark Rothko painting, and which is a test patch of color for Miss K’s bedroom?

Okay, that was a little facetious. In Rothko’s painting the interest is in the interplay between the colors and the emotions they evoke in the viewer—not just on a single patch of color itself.

The color block paintings are from his late period—1949 onward. I’m guessing he must have been aware of the work of Josef Albers who experimented extensively with the effects of colors upon each other, but I don’t know.

Regardless, Rothko saw these blocks of color as having their own “life force” and as an instrument through which to convey human emotion. He felt that the best way to view them was to get very close—even just 18” away—in order to be enveloped within the painting and experience a sense of intimacy or even transcendence.

Having now painted Miss K’s room a vibrating violet color, I can attest to the fact that being surrounded by the color is quite an experience! I wonder if Rothko ever considered creating a painting large enough to wrap around the viewer?

I'm generally more a fan of figurative painting and landscapes, but these Rothkos are breathtaking to me. Anyway, I know I’m not the only one who has looked to art for color inspiration—and his paintings do not disappoint. Aren't these beautiful? I would never have thought to put the brown-red together with the pink, below. And the white sits above just like a pillow or a cloud.

Mark Rothko died in 1970. In 2007 his painting “White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose), shown below, sold for $72.8 million at Sotheby’s New York, setting a new record for the sale of a post-war painting.