Abstract Expressionism: The Royal Academy

Posted by on Oct 20, 2016 in Discussion, News | 0 comments

This is a stunning exhibition at the Royal Academy  : I suddenly understood what Mark Rothko (1903-1970) meant when he talked about the relationship between painting and viewer as ‘a consummated experience between picture and onlooker. Nothing should stand between my painting and the viewer.’

Like one of my tutors who was very sceptical about whether you could think of Rothko as a great artist because his paintings are apparently so simple. I had no more doubts when I saw the Rothko room at the exhibition. His work is powerful and serious.

His works are grouped together in a circular gallery and the effect is sombre and all-encompassing. You feel held in the atmosphere created by the paintings and slowly you perceive what they mean to you.

I was sad to find out more about Rothko’s life . It started with hardship (in Russia, now Latvia, with persecution as a Jew) and ended very sadly.  He committed suicide, quite unexpectedly though in retrospect his paintings showed the darkness of his mood. After his death, he became clear he had been  swindled by his agent  and many years of legal action followed before the wrong was righted.

Many of the abstract expressionists, including Jackson Pollock, died sadly and in a period of personal hopelessness. They were serious about what they were trying to do and it meant much to them so the arid times must have been particularly unbearable.





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