Monday, April 30, 2012


Rothko at the Portland Art Museum until May 27


I became enamored with this artist on a trip to Washington, D.C. The National Gallery and the Phillips Museum have impressive paintings. His work embodies the visceral experience of painting. There is little image meaning to guide you, just rectangular shapes, but the color! Ah, it is glorious.  I've been content just to bask in that experience and was surprised at what I learned about the artist and his progression. 

He grew up in Portland and his early works are reminiscent of the Northwest School, all dull, cool colors. 

He moved to abstraction throughout the 40's, some images had a playful Klee-like feel and the colors brighten.

In the early fifties the shapes become geometric, cut free of references. These are the ones that grab me.


 His later works are dark and don't initially attract me, but have a powerful, calming presence that grows. 
    
Not so long ago taking pictures in museums was frowned on. When visiting exhibits, I would go to the gift shop to buy a postcard. Invariably, my favorite painting had not been reproduced.  


I took some pictures at this exhibit. It seems funny to write a review of paintings without images but I can't find any clear guidelines about posting my own photos of someone else's paintings even for review purposes, so I am erring on the side of caution. 

Most of the paintings, including those from the National Gallery and Rothko's children, were available to photograph. I found it amusing that the only painting off-limits was owned by Paul Allen. 

You can see some Rothko paintings here: Bridgemanart

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