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Entries in Mark Rothko (4)


Did You Know?

Mark Rothko’s death has all the elements of a murder mystery. After he died, there was a suspicious handling of his estate, and a lawsuit from his family that exposed corruption in the international art world. Between betrayal, missing paintings, laundered money, and forgery, there is just enough evidence to make some think that maybe his death wasn’t a suicide after all.


Modern Art Was Cia 'Weapon'

Brois Kustodiev (click photo for larger image)The following link will take you to an older--but nonetheless interesting--article, on the CIA’s use of artists’ works as propaganda, during the Cold War:

“The Central Intelligence Agency used American modern art - including the works of such artists as Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko - as a weapon in the Cold War. In the manner of a Renaissance prince - except that it acted secretly - the CIA fostered and promoted American Abstract Expressionist painting around the world for more than 20 years...."


Considering that the general American public was not particlarly interested in modern art (or the work of the postmodernists noted above), the choice, on the part of the CIA, to use them actually demonstrates a certain sensitivity to the work that hadn’t yet been instilled in the population at large, in this country. Abstract Expressionism was certainly different from Soviet art. A documentary was released in 1995 that focused on this topic. The title is “Hidden Hands: Painting with the Enemy” and it’s listed on the IMDB. But, I haven’t been able to locate it. Maybe you’ll have better luck!

Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin (click photo for larger image)

(click photo for larger image)(click photo for larger image)


An American American Tragedy - Mark Rothko

Mark Rothko, Untitled,1949, National Gallery of Art, Gift of The Mark Rothko Foundation, Inc., 1986.43.138 - “Rothko largely abandoned conventional titles in 1947, sometimes resorting to numbers or colors in order to distinguish one work from another. The artist also now resisted explaining the meaning of his work. ‘Silence is so accurate,’ he said, fearing that words would only paralyze the viewer's mind and imagination. (National Gallery of Art)Russian-American painter Mark Rothko (1903-1970) introduced contemplative introspection into the melodramatic post-World War II Abstract Expressionist school. Rothko’s paintings that used color as the sole means of expression led to the development of Color Field Painting--one of the two most important strains of Abstract Expressionism. (The other was Action Painting.) Color field paintings are characterized by flat expanses of color, with a minimum of surface detail. Rothko believed that optical responses were all that mattered in painting--and that visible subject matter and illusion were unnecessary. A significant figure in postmodern art--it’s unfortunate that the artist came to a sad end. Suffering from ill health--and feeling abandoned by the many artists he’d influenced--Rothko committed suicide at age 67.


Quote of the Day

"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 academicism. There is no such thing as good painting about nothing." - Mark Rothko