unlike the others, this is acrylic on paper

one of my favorites

Although the American artist Mark Rothko always claimed not to be an abstract painter, his wall-size paintings certainly look like abstract works. Especially his post-war compositions are dominated by roughly rectangular shapes of certain colour painted on a contrasting base, essentially depicting nothing else. The exhibition in the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague, The Netherlands, brings together a number of works, mostly on loan from the National Gallery of Art in Washington – an excellent opportunity to see some Rothko on this side of the Atlantic. I have always been somewhat skeptical about this form of expression – perhaps I am not modern enough -, yet I have to admit that I came away impressed. The Rothko paintings invite you to walk from a distance slowly towards the canvas, which creates the experience as if you are actually walking straight into the painting.

 

1501.ROTH.08 (589x800) 1501.ROTH.08a (800x600)Yet, the paintings are best viewed from a distance: to the left here, I show one of the paintings as a whole, as well as a close-up of the centre part (“untitled”, 1948). It is amazing how it takes a much smoother shape from further away

Others know much more about Rothko than I do, so I limit myself to posting a couple of photos from the paintings, taken in the museum. Poor quality, and in any case there is no way you can catch the impression of standing in front of a Rothko-work in a photo, but it gives you an idea, at least.

another early one: phalanx of mind, 1946

another early one: phalanx of mind, 1946

and a thrid one: personage two, 1949 - just before he started with his larger shapes, I suppose

and this one: personage two, 1949 – just before he started with his larger shapes, I suppose

underground phantasy, ca 1940 (one of the early paintings)

underground phantasy, ca 1940 (one of the early paintings)

The other good thing about this type of exhibitions is that they also contain some early works, works I would never have identified as a Rothko, but are quite nice, nevertheless. I include three of those here, too. If you haven’t been yet, go and see the exhibition, even if you are initially as skeptical as I was…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click on the gallery below, and you’ll see the full paintings.

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