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An Interview with Rothko’s Sister

I recently found this transcript of an interview with Mark Rothko’s sister Sonia Allen.  It was conducted by the the Smithsonian Institutions Archives of American Art.  

At the time of the interview Ms. Allen was 94 years old.  Her answers are somewhat short and as the collection summary on the website states she does not elaborate very much on her answers.  

What is interesting about the interview though is that it gives a little insight to anyone interested in learning about the childhood and family life Rothko grew up in.  From his sisters answers his family seemed to be incredible supportive of his art and his career.  

If you would like to read it just click this link: http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/interviews/oral-history-interview-sonia-allen-13014

It’s a pretty quick read but it is kind of interesting.

Mark Rothko: The Realist YearsOct 31, 2001 - Jan 5, 2002
"Approximately forty of Mark Rothko’s rarely exhibited Depression-era urban scenes, still lifes and nudes from the 1930s and 1940s will be on view at PaceWildenstein (32 East 57th Street in New York City) from October 31, 2001 through January 5, 2002. Selected from the artist’s estate and public as well as private collections, this exhibition provides the first occasion to view Rothko’s contribution to early American modernism as a precursor to his unprecedented transition into abstraction."
- Pace Gallery Press Release for Mark Rothko: Realist Years.  Oct 31, 2001

Mark Rothko: The Realist Years
Oct 31, 2001 - Jan 5, 2002

"Approximately forty of Mark Rothko’s rarely exhibited Depression-era urban scenes, still lifes and nudes from the 1930s and 1940s will be on view at PaceWildenstein (32 East 57th Street in New York City) from October 31, 2001 through January 5, 2002. Selected from the artist’s estate and public as well as private collections, this exhibition provides the first occasion to view Rothko’s contribution to early American modernism as a precursor to his unprecedented transition into abstraction."

- Pace Gallery Press Release for Mark Rothko: Realist Years.  Oct 31, 2001


Untitled
1946
oil on canvas
99.9 x 69.9 cm (39 5/16 x 27 1/2 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of The Mark Rothko Foundation, Inc.

"Black was a frequent, sometimes imposing presence in Rothko’s early work (nos. 1–9)—from his expressive figures of the 1930s to the surrealist-inspired canvases of the mid-1940s to the abstract "multiforms" of the late 1940s. Interestingly, black did not play a major role in Rothko’s classic works of the 1950s. Thus his dramatic turn to black in 1964, with the black paintings featured in this exhibition (nos. 10–16), was something of a return, but one whose significance remains mysterious."
- In the Tower: Mark Rothko, a past exhibit at the National Gallery of Art

  • Untitled
  • 1946
  • oil on canvas
  • 99.9 x 69.9 cm (39 5/16 x 27 1/2 in.)
  • National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of The Mark Rothko Foundation, Inc.

"Black was a frequent, sometimes imposing presence in Rothko’s early work (nos. 1–9)—from his expressive figures of the 1930s to the surrealist-inspired canvases of the mid-1940s to the abstract "multiforms" of the late 1940s. Interestingly, black did not play a major role in Rothko’s classic works of the 1950s. Thus his dramatic turn to black in 1964, with the black paintings featured in this exhibition (nos. 10–16), was something of a return, but one whose significance remains mysterious."

- In the Tower: Mark Rothko, a past exhibit at the National Gallery of Art


Untitled (Man with Green Face)
Mark Rothko
1934/1935
oil on canvas
71.5 x 60.9 cm (27 11/16 x 23 11/16 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of The Mark Rothko Foundation, Inc.

  • Untitled (Man with Green Face)
  • Mark Rothko
  • 1934/1935
  • oil on canvas
  • 71.5 x 60.9 cm (27 11/16 x 23 11/16 in.)
  • National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of The Mark Rothko Foundation, Inc.

In The Tower: Mark Rothko

Produced by the National Gallery of Art and narrated by Harry Cooper.

The video is a short explaintion of Rothko’s life and how his artistic style developed.  I don’t particularly agree with everything in the video.  The narrator describes the Segrum Murals as somber and I personally believe they are anything but.  He also states that Rothko was moving away from color with the black on black paintings at the end of his career.  If that were so then I think the paintings would be white as that is the absence of color.  

It’s not a bad video to watch though…its a tad dry but it’s only 8 minuets and filled with pictures of Rothkos art as well as Rothko himself.

Mark Rothko (painter)American, born Russia, 1903 - 1970The Party, 1938
From the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C
Not Currently on Display 

Mark Rothko (painter)
American, born Russia, 1903 - 1970
The Party, 1938

From the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C

Not Currently on Display 


"Some critics have seen these [The Black on Black paintings] paintings as Rothko’s pointed reminder that there was more to his work than lyric color—that his real subject was (as he had declared in 1943) the “tragic and timeless.” Others have seen them as tokens of the illness and depression that began to plague Rothko in the 1960s, even as harbingers of his suicide at the end of the decade.
But does black = tragedy and despair? While it does absorb more light than any other color, it is not just a void. Depending upon the quality of paint and its application, as well as shifting angles of light, the blacks here can look like steel or velvet, silver screens or black holes. Other colors lie in wait under a surface or peek around an edge. But to notice all this takes time: unless we look at the paintings slowly, we will not see what Rothko called their “inner light.”“
- From the National Gallery of Art Website

"Some critics have seen these [The Black on Black paintings] paintings as Rothko’s pointed reminder that there was more to his work than lyric color—that his real subject was (as he had declared in 1943) the “tragic and timeless.” Others have seen them as tokens of the illness and depression that began to plague Rothko in the 1960s, even as harbingers of his suicide at the end of the decade.

But does black = tragedy and despair? While it does absorb more light than any other color, it is not just a void. Depending upon the quality of paint and its application, as well as shifting angles of light, the blacks here can look like steel or velvet, silver screens or black holes. Other colors lie in wait under a surface or peek around an edge. But to notice all this takes time: unless we look at the paintings slowly, we will not see what Rothko called their “inner light.”“

- From the National Gallery of Art Website

Rothko in his studio in 1952
Taken by Kay Bell Reynal
Copyright (c) 2011 Archives of American Art   

Rothko in his studio in 1952

Taken by Kay Bell Reynal

Copyright (c) 2011 Archives of American Art   

Seeing a Rothko

I’ve never really made personal post on this blog and before yesterday I never really thought to. The point of this blog was simply to share Mark Rothko with people who loved his work and people who had never heard of him.

Simply this blog is about Rothko, not me.

But after visiting the Museum of the Art Institute in Chicago (I was visiting a friend up here) I felt I had to share this experience with all of you who read this blog.

I have only ever seen one Rothko in person. It was a color field….a very small one…and it was at the High Museum in Atlanta. I love that painting but it wasn’t the traditional Rothko size where as a viewer you can literally fall into his painting.  That was something I had always wanted to see but never had the chance.

On Saturday I saw two of his massive color fields, each one I believe I have posted on this blog at some point. All I can say is that therenis nothing like seeing these paintings up close.  The two paintings I had the opportuninty to see are below and I promise the online versions do not do them justice.  If you get the chance go see them.  You can see the brush strokes and the differences in the shades going on through the blocks of color. The dripping in the opposite direction that it was hung made me laugh. When I left the museum those paintings were all I could think about.  I can’t even begin to explain the amount of work I saw Saturday, and while most of it feels like a blur, those few minuets in front of Rothko’s paintings slow down in my memory as if I had spent the entire day staring at those two paintings.

 

Taken from the The Art Institute of Chicago website


“The Rothko paintings prompted the play, screenwriter-playwright Logan told Playbill.com’s Stage to Screens column. “We filmed ‘Sweeney Todd’ at Pinewood, so I was in London for months on end,” Logan said. “I would walk about the city, and I went to the Tate Modern where, at that point, the Rothko Seagram paintings were. I just absolutely fell in love with them, and that’s what led me to write the play. When I thought about the way the colors in the paintings vibrate back and forth, I thought it would be a great two-hander because it sorta represents and mirrors his work. Once I came up with the idea of Rothko and his assistant, everything fell into place.”“
 

“Red, with Alfred Molina and Eddie Redmayne, Splashes Onto Broadway”
By Adam Hetrick 
and Kenneth Jones
01 Apr 2010

“The Rothko paintings prompted the play, screenwriter-playwright Logan told Playbill.com’s Stage to Screens column. “We filmed ‘Sweeney Todd’ at Pinewood, so I was in London for months on end,” Logan said. “I would walk about the city, and I went to the Tate Modern where, at that point, the Rothko Seagram paintings were. I just absolutely fell in love with them, and that’s what led me to write the play. When I thought about the way the colors in the paintings vibrate back and forth, I thought it would be a great two-hander because it sorta represents and mirrors his work. Once I came up with the idea of Rothko and his assistant, everything fell into place.”“

“Red, with Alfred Molina and Eddie Redmayne, Splashes Onto Broadway” By Adam Hetrick and Kenneth Jones 01 Apr 2010