Monday, December 2, 2013

The Death of "Sacred" in Art (by Suicide)? Enter the Post-Modern

from a review of the Everyman Theatre's current production of "Red"
The start of the final scene, with Rothko sitting on the floor, hands covered in red paint, is placed too far downstage for those not sitting in the first few rows to see. The scene's impact comes from the whole audience sharing Ken's fear that the artist has done himself injury.
an excerpt from an account from the artist's actual life...
"On February 25, 1970, my mother received a call from Oliver Steindecker, Mark Rothko’s studio assistant, informing her that Rothko had committed suicide and was lying on the floor of his studio in a pool of blood."
from Wikipedia:
The artist Mark Rothko was engaged to paint a series of works for the restaurant in 1958. Accepting the commission, he secretly resolved to create "something that will ruin the appetite of every son-of-a-bitch who ever eats in that room." Observing the restaurant's pretentious atmosphere upon his return from a trip to Europe, Rothko abandoned the project altogether, returned his advance and kept the paintings for himself. The final series was dispersed and now hangs in three locations: London’s Tate Gallery, Japan’s Kawamura Memorial Museum and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. During the period in which Rothko worked on his murals, the Four Seasons rented Jackson Pollock's masterpiece Blue Poles from its then-owner, art collector Ben Heller. John Logan's Tony Award-winning 2010 play Red dramatizes Rothko's time working on the Seagram Murals.
The "Pop" Art of Andy Warhol, et al, had just displaced Abstract Expressionism as the premier art form du jour, just as Abstract Expressionism had in earlier days displaced the figurative art forms of cubism and Surrealism. But retracting the sale of the paintings and undoing the commission from which they were born was an attempt by Rothko to remain true to himself and protest the "crass" commercialism inherent in his work. On the other hand, Andy Warhol, went on to ironically "exploit" just these crass commercial aspects.

from Art Critic Sue Hubbard commenting upon a Rothko retrospective at the Tate Modern:
The next generation of American artists would abandon spiritual concerns and deconstruct the uniqueness of the art object: if a work of art could be reproduced endlessly, it no longer had a value as a "sacred" object (think of Andy Warhol's silk screens). Rothko was one of the last, great philosophical painters to put aesthetics before money and to believe in the redemptive power of art.


Thersites said...

Note to nicrap. After this point in history, the "author" was dead.

FreeThinke said...

MARK ROTHKO?!?! This is utter crap. The critical praise heaped upon him is intellectualized SWILL. Talk about "pretentious!"

This is why I remain devoted almost-but-not-quite-exclusively to the Baroque, Classical and Romantic periods in music and nineteenth and early twentieth century British and American literature.

So-called "Art" in the twentieth century became Irrational, anti-Social, and hostile to Beauty, Order and Refinement.

Not that I haven't spent many happy hours at MOMA gazing in wonderment at myriad paintings and pieces of sculpture I wouldn't have in my house as a gift.

But then, I wouldn't want Michelangelo's Ceiling in MY family chapel either, si there! };-)>

I may be a classicist (primarily) but I am no Philistine.

I may love the brilliant and refined, but I appreciate honest earthiness as much or more. I abhor the precious, the supercilious, the vain and the snide. And I abhor the sort of people who study "Art" in order to feel they have a right to look down on others who merely love or loathe it according to the dictates of their instincts and honest feelings.