My artist friend and I were standing in front of a Rothko painting at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. a while back when she said, “This does nothing for me.”
I couldn’t believe those words had come from her mouth because I was trying to think of ways to make the painting a part of me, as in, you know, eating it. I wanted it to be me. I wanted to point at it while yelling to the other museum visitors, “THIS! This is IT! This is how I feel!” I was trembling.
There is a lesson in this little anecdote, I’m sure of it. Maybe something about how as an artist you just need to create the thing that is true to you and not worry about what others think and also, needing to know that your art will resonate with some people and not with others and that’s OK.
Rothko’s colors still, always, forever make me tremble. And, apparently, I’ve become a sort of groupie because I’ve seen his work at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the University of Arizona Museum of Art, the Portland Art Museum, the Denver Art Museum, at a museum in New York City whose name I cannot remember, multiple exhibitions at the National Gallery of Art and at The Phillips Collection (where they have a Rothko Room that I find so intense that after sitting in there for just 10 minutes I have to leave to get some air before I can see again.)
So, here’s a bit of his color wonderful and some fun links to celebrate his birthday: