Mark Rothko

“In 1957 the London critic Robert Melville wrote of Mr. Rothko’s work: “It is baffling and mysterious in its simplicity, and I know that many people only find it an insult to their intelligence; but if by some miracle Rothko’s attitude to painting were to prevail, we should all be on the way to becoming converts to Zen Buddhism.”

Mr. Rothko shared the belief of his generation that painting was an act of faith. lig was not given to public declamation about his work, but he spoke to friends of “trying to project a tragic vision.” And he was concerned about the way that vision was received.

“A picture lives by companionship, expanding and quickening in the eyes of the sensitive observer,” he wrote. “It dies by the same token. It is therefore a risky act to send it out into the world. How often it must be permanently impaired by the eyes of the un feeling and the cruelty of the impotent who would extend their affliction universally.”

Described by friends as an essentially melancholy man, Mr Rothko was also a brilliant and witty talker.

“His temperament was always Russian and melancholy, even when things were going his way,” said Betty Parsons, a dealer and an old friend and supporter. “But he could make black white, and white black when he spoke. His wit was not at the expense of people, but at the expense of life.”

-The New York Times

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