First I considered Rothko’s work as colored blocks, painted on top of one another. I never saw any of Rothko’s work in real life obviously… In fact the paintings are everything but static, dull or ‘just colors’. This is why I think these paintings are so much more than kindergarten creativity.
First of all I think this exhibition must have cost a fortune… There are only 2 paintings of Rothko in The Netherlands, so the rest of them had to be transferred from abroad. Loan opportunities are limited and today’s value of Rothko’s paintings are rising to sky high prices (86,8 million dollar in 2012 for ‘orange, red, yellow’). The Gemeentemuseum Den Haag collaborated closely with the Washington National Gallery of Art (a.o.) to make this exhibition happen.
Like I said, I never saw a real Rothko ‘live’ but it was quite impressive. The exhibiton introduces you to an artist that is still looking for a way to express himself. First in a more figurative way, later even surrealism crossed his path. Slowly Mark Rothko develops an abstract way to hit his audience emotionally. Possibly affected by ideas about atrocities that people did to each other during WWII, wondering if it even was correct to paint human beings in a human way, his paintings bacame more abstract.
Also, the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag exhibited the Rothko works pure, as they were meant to be. Twilight, the paintings are close to the floor, no glass.
There are small rooms like chapels, with only one painting – with perfect lighting.
So, there they were… The famous big canvases, full of color. I stood in front of them and stared at one of them for a while. The longer I watched, the more color I saw and it was like the surfaces melted together, flowing over each other, disappeared and flased back again… But only one blink was enough to end the magic. I couldn’t stop starting all over again, time after time.
Also, for me, the perfect imperfection was something that appeald to me. If he had used perfect lines, or colored within the lines, the work would have had a lot less impact than it has now. The blurry lines and lots of layers ensure ‘the Rothko experience’. Imagine he thought inside the box…
For the first time ever (so I was told) a first generation modern artist and a second generation modern artist are combined in a museum. Mondriaan and Rothko, in one room.
This way, it’s possible to compare their work and maybe even question yourself about it.
Rothko vs. Mondriaan or Rothko feat. Mondriaan?
Mark Rothko 20 sept 2014 – 3 mar 2015
Gemeentemuseum Den Haag