Mark Rothko at the TATE

I finally got to see the Mark Rothko exhibition at the TATE Modern last week.

I have a bit of personal interest in Rothko’s work. I loved it when I was at art college and I still do. My personal response to them is that they are works that are that much maligned quality: “spiritual”

I definitely reach a sense of transcendence when I’m nose-to-canvas. The way the colour has been laid on and built up over time. As an 18-year-old, his work had a deeply needed sense of gravitas for me, and I still feel them as very heavy works. In fact I felt depressed when I came out of this show even today. It doesn’t surprise me that he committed suicide. I would have hated to be him. The transcendence is probably part of the problem. All transcendence and no immanence makes Jack a dull boy. As I’m fond of saying over the dinner table.

But don’t let me put you off.

They are works that you can just sit with and chill out near – almost like painting’s early ambient music, and I think in a fundamental way, these works are interpretive – your response to them is as good and valid as mine, and I’d be intrigued to know what other people think of them.

With regards to the curating of the show, I have a few issues though. We all know about the shenanigans surrounding the Seagram Murals and whether they were hung the right way up, but for me, they were hung far too high. The rest of the works were not.

I know that they TATE says that he wanted them hung high in the Whitechapel Art Gallery, but anyone who knows that gallery also knows that it is a tall cavernous space. The room they are currently being shown in in the TATE is not. They were hung too high in the room for me to make any kind of response, other than that the room looked like a cathedral.

It also seems clear from the maquette right near the entrance of the show, that the works were meant to be hung low and near to the floor despite what how the TATE might want to spin it.

It seems that despite their best efforts, the works are still being politicised to this day – but that’s a whooooole other discussion. 🙂

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3 Responses to Mark Rothko at the TATE

  1. Linda says:

    Thanks for your thoughts as I can’t get to see this exhibition. (Maybe it will travel – I mean somewhere other than London in the UK, as in Liverpool.) I saw a Rothko retrospective many years ago …(Also very possibly at the Tate..? I can’t remember.), however I can remember the paintings seemed like bottomless spaces…I can remember thinking that you didn’t quite know where you (the viewer :))were supposed to be in relation to them 🙂 It wasn’t until I was an art student that I was told that he meant them to be spiritual observances, at the time of seeing the exhibition I was just a bit awed by the physicality/colour of the paint. (Also: they must have been hung lower when I saw them as I don’t remember having to look up to see them, the middle of the paintings must have been at about eye level.)

  2. artbizness says:

    it’s nice to BE back. Things have been a bit hectic round here lately…

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