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« Rethinking the Great Commission | Main | Perspective »

May 17, 2007

Stepping on Toes

Whitecenterposters For all you abstract aficionados, I’ll apologize for stepping on your toes up front.

According to the Associated Press, abstract expressionist Mark Rothko’s “White Center” painting sold for close to $73 million. I saw the painting and just don’t get it. The colors are pretty, and the horizontal shapes somewhat interesting—it reminds me of a modern-looking ottoman placed in a light-filled room. What, however, makes this different from when I see home owners and designers create “fine art" (ha!) on shows like Trading Spaces?

A little about Rothko’s life:

During his lifetime, Rothko’s style became “distorted” in part as a reaction to World War II. On the National Gallery of Art website, you can see one of his early works, which is a landscape. They give you a handy timeline to follow where you can see Rothko’s form changing and becoming darker and more menacing. 

From my very short reading on Rothko, he became an abstract painter because he felt his representative or symbolic painting became too grotesque and “mutilated." This was a result of his view that humans had become alienated from one another and the world. 

He didn’t reject all joyful thoughts, because his abstracts are linked to “eternal themes such as tragedy, ecstasy, and the sublime.” But he was friends with a lot of well-known people like Friedrich Nietzsche—no wonder he clutched at the idea of human alienation and emptiness. (Sadly, Rothko ended up alone and committed suicide.)

Seventy-three million dollars. I still don’t get it.

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