Mark Rothko: The Power of Color

Seagram murals at the Tate

By Béa Aaronson

Mark Rothko is an icon of American abstract art. He was part of this multi-dimensional American artistic blossoming known as Abstract Expressionism, alongside Pollock, Milton Avery, Clifford Still, Barnett Newman, de Kooning, and so many others. But Rothko was not an abstractionist! He furrowed the psychic reality of human emotions and created a unique visual field of color vibrations that requires from the beholder a concentrated gaze and stance. Only then can the miracle happen. You pause, you feel, you spiritually and physically ingest, you cry.

Lecture
Mark Rothko: The Power of Color
Mon, Dec 21, 4pm
The Jewish Cultural Center of San Miguel, the JC3
Calle de Las Moras 47, corner Cinco de Mayo
For reservations call 415 185 9191
or email us at shalomsanmiguel@yahoo.com.mx
130 pesos members/150 pesos non-members

In this presentation, I shall offer you a succinct yet substantial account of his life. I shall also highlight his loquacious, exuberant, hot-tempered, philosophical, erudite, neurasthenic personality. I shall present you with many juxtapositions, some obvious, some more startling, revealing his sources of inspiration and artistic affinities: Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Goya, Turner, the French Impressionists, Caspar David Friedrich, and Matisse, to name but a few.

I shall tame his signature style of hypnotic, transcendental, floating, vibrating rectangles of color, hovering like a mirage, through an understanding of the latest data concerning the psychological, physiological, vibrational power of color. Rothko’s fuzzy rectangles seem to breathe indeed, like a muscle, like our own lungs, they contract and expand. A printed reproduction, even of high quality, will never induce this sensation. One must take the time to let his huge blurred rectangles penetrate your retina and then your very soul. They do indeed vibrate, live inside of you.

I shall of course discuss the 1958 Seagram Four Seasons saga, which can be best summed up in Rothko’s own words: “I hope to paint something that will ruin the appetite of every son of a bitch who ever eats in that room,” a saga which will result in his annulment of the contract! Rothko fought against the mercantilism of art.

I shall enter the poignant intimacy of his ultimate towering artistic statement, his testament, his 1964 ominous cycle of “Black Paintings” inside the Houston Chapel, which he never saw completed. What could one do after that but end one’s terrestrial life? Rothko committed suicide on February 25, 1970, with an overdose of antidepressants and slicing his wrists with a razor blade.

And what about Rothko’s link to Nietzsche? All art historians mention their affinity, but nobody actually puts in simple words what it was all about. I shall attempt to connect these two thinkers. You will see clearly, I hope, that through his passion for Greek mythology, it is tragedy, the recognition of this existential wound of pending doom, that connects Rothko to Nietzsche.

I invite you to meet, feel, and understand Mark Rothko.

 

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