A Surprise

I might be unusual in having a very mobile taste—I’m always surprised by something. A good example is Rothko’s early work. I still have no affection for his characteristic brushy blocks, but the work of the early 40s seems to me now as very good, and that’s a pretty unexpected turn. Most artists become fixed in their taste at some point, and then all they can see is what they want to see. I’m probably not entirely free of that kind of morbidity, but haven’t yet lost the capacity to respond. In an earlier post Tess Jaray is quoted as saying that it is difficult to really “see.” Can’t argue with her, as I am blind most of the time, but she doesn’t complete the picture. One also has to point out that new impressions don’t enter through the doors of intense concentrated perception, but rather slip in through the corners of one’s eyes, both literally and metaphorically. One doesn’t actually “see” much with one’s eyes anyway. I love the way these pictures build up

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Mark Rothko, Untitled 1945-46

through repeated forms and communication of shapes across distances. There’s also a great attention to minute particulars, little brush hair lines and things like that. A lot of fussing with this and that for no particular reason, meaning that the experience is discovered as we go. Faith in the outcome is operative here. The small focus seems to have been how Rothko found himself, but he made an unfortunate choice of where to go from there. Here’s another one and a detail, rotated, with freely improvised moments of paint.

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Mark Rothko, #3 1947

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Mark Rothko, detail of #3 1947

The closer one looks the better. What are those little black scratches and curls?

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