Mark Rothko: The Master of the Color Field
Mark Rothko was a pioneer of color field painting, who not only can be referred to as the father of the art but also had his work standing out from those of his contemporaries. This type of work began in the late 1940s, just after the Second World War. The Russian-American painter played a huge role in putting New York City to the rise as a center of art in the world, making it stand out even from Paris, which seemed impossible to compete with. As an abstract expressionist, a title that he often refused to be associated with, he played a significant role amongst his contemporaries in glorifying the Second World War art movement that came to be referred to as abstract expressionism (Wechsler, p. 71). Rothko’s style of art, as a pioneer, was referred to as color field painting, which immensely utilized the expressive capabilities of color. It was considerably influenced by the philosophical works of Feud, Nietzsche, and Carl Jung to bring out the characteristics of the type of works he is most appreciated for. Mark Rothko and Color Field Painting
Mark Rothko rose just after the Second World War as an artist amongst few who were trying to adopt a type of art that would be unique, yet that which would help them send their message out to the world in as clear as possible way. Color field painting, therefore, came as a form of art within abstract expressionism, which was clearly different from other contemporary forms of art, such as gestural or action painting. It came up as an abstraction style that would express transcendence in a modern and strong way. Mark’s painting, in looking for a unique type of art that differed from Newman’s, work, which was quite traditional in its inclusion of symbols and conventional imagery.
Mark is one of the few color field artists that excelled in the use of color to invoke mythical art in a modern way. The ultimate objective in using this type of art was to institute a connection with the prehistoric emotions of the people that were then trapped in ancient myths, making them understand the world at their time (Wechsler, p. 73). This is another way in which he differed from Newman and Still, whose works lacked the mythological character and were, on the contrary, more figurative. It was highly appreciated by many critiques as a great leap forward in art. The movement into the line of color field painting was markedly facilitated by Mark, Newman, and Clyfford Still. Still and Newman have been known to have made significant theoretical contributions to the art style and its development while Mark has been argued to have made the most practical impacts. Mark, Newman and Still did a lot of work together, including organizing live galleries, such as The Ideographic Picture, which was organized with the help of Hans Hoffman. This happened to be one of the most significant moments when Mark moved to demonstrate the need to drop all figurative dimensions of the art and just use color as a way to influence expression. While some artists maintained the gestural type of color painting, Mark insisted on adopting color alone in abstract expressionism, which saw the movement split up into two, with his art being left unique. Widespread recognition of this type of painting, however, did not come until the 1950s, when critiques began to appreciate the impact it was having. Mark continued to differ from Newman and still in his insistence for mythology and the creation of consciousness for it, which later developed into a tendency to propagate the social impact. The different would be marked by Newman’s tendency to join Mark in mythological and philosophy-inspired works later in the 50s. Mark’s Outstanding Contributions
One of the most unique characteristics that can be associated with Rothko is the fact that he deviated into color field painting at a time when almost every other artists at the...
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Breslin, J.E.B. Mark Rothko – A Biography. Chicago, London: University of Chicago Press, 1993.
Wechsler, Jeffrey. Pathways and Parallels: Roads to Abstract Expressionism. New York: Hollis Taggart Galleries, 2007.
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