Tuesday, March 16, 2010

REVIEW: The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art, by Mark Rothko

REVIEW: The Artist’s Reality: Philosophies of Art, by Mark Rothko

This small, dense book is an interesting historical perspective, both in that Rothko views the artist’s place historically, and in the historic turning of art away from realism during Rothko’s lifetime. Rothko sees the artist as a sort of philosopher, an interpreter of the sensibilities of his time and life experience. He talks about the shifting attentions of artists throughout history, from the art of myth, to sensual art, to art of emotion expressed in light. We are left to speculate how he might have reflected on the abstracted forms of art prevalent in his later years, after the book was written.

Rothko’s prose is heavy, laden with undefined terms. Even when he does pause to define his language, his meaning is often unclear, as with his oft-used “plasticity.” A significant work of philosophy would require, I think, more exacting language.

An interesting glimpse into the mind of an artist at a crossroads.


Celeste Bergin said...

whoa! You read it! I could not get past something like page 10..! Congratulations...and I agree with your review (as much as I can from having only read 10 pages).

Karen E. Lewis said...

It was slow going, but thoughtful.