Sunday, 28 September 2008

NOT: Mark Rothko, Tate Modern, Southbank

I know I'm setting myself up to receive some strongly opposing views here, but the Tate Modern's autumn blockbuster didn't change my opinion of Mark Rothko. I know I should like his work given his important reputation, the fact that I really like his contemporary, Barnett Newman and (as Huy said) I have a high tolerance of sh*t in art. However, I draw the line at gushing over repetitive canvasses of red, maroon, black, grey and brown (all named 'Brown and Gray' or 'Black on Gray' etc), especially while trying to have a profound moment as crowds of bored kids, posing art students and art-knowledge pretenders swirled around me. The last straw was the ridiculous exhibition catalogue which informed me that in Rothko's earlier works the paint had gone right to the edge, and then in an amazing creative development, he painted 'Black on Gray' so that the colours didn't go right to the edge, leaving a white border of canvas. Oh, and the canvasses in the series were different sized. This was all supposed to be 'pushing the boundaries of his practice'. I mean, come on.


Huy the Lad said...

Check out the article below in The Times. Do you think we missed something?

Jetsetting Joyce said...

I agree the best bit was the Seagram room, but the experience was marred by everyone trying to have a deep, profound, meditative moment while a million people milled around. The rest of the exhibition I thought was very much a case of Emperor's new clothes. I think I agree with Peter of London more than this review.