An Introduction to Mark Rothko

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Encounters with Mark Rothko's 'Light red over black' (1957)

Mark Rothko, 'Light red over black' 1957.

In this essay I will explore 'Light red over black' (1957) by Mark Rothko. Although apparently simple, infact shows a wonderfully complex process of thought and throughout this essay I will interpret and get a better understanding of Rothko's intention and meaning.

Filled with shades of red, the upper part of the painting comes to create a strong opposition with the black area below it, itself encircled by a darker red. This painting consisting of three floating rectangles in various colour combinations, creates a sombre mood conducive to spiritual contemplation. With the use of Rothko's saturated colours the viewers are moved and as one's eye adjust to the light that the painting emits. The colour field, I feel, embraces the mind, and the palette's warm variety of tones mesmerises.

Further analysing this painting, the two darker oblongs appear like two opening's in the centre of the painting, creating a sense of freedom. Conveyed in this painting is a sense that the oblongs are two openings in the centre of the picture, as the two darker rectangles are much more prominent in relation to the red tones. When first encountering this piece I questionned perhaps whether these oblongs were openings or whether in fact they were floating on the surface. In many respects it reminded me of of a stained-glass windows, except that there is no pattern or decoration. However, through it's title, 'Light red over black' it seemed that perhaps Mark Rothko wanted the red to be more of a protrusive focus. However, with such contrasting colours it is definitely the black and dark blue that strick as the main aspect of this painting for me. On a chronological outlook, the shades from the upper half, the lighter red, move slowly downwards to a much darker colour. This could possibly be perceived as a means of human life, which has been said that Rothko tried...
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