Interpreting Art – Rothko

rothkoI had an assignment this week that required me to interpret Rothko’s Orange, Red, Yellow. This work sold at auction for over $86 million dollars at Christie’s.

Here’s my response to several questions posed by the teacher:

“1. Mark Rothko has spoken at length about the intent and significance of his artwork.He maintained that the purpose of his art was to convey emotion through color, and that he was not specifically concerned with abstract relationships.With that in mind, his artwork seems to be experimenting with how much an image can be reduced while still having an emotional impact.

2. Rothko’s artwork breaks with most of the culturally-accepted norms of “good art”.There’s no attempt at depicting the physical world, little real skill in the actual execution, no explicit ideological statement.Rothko makes the case that these factors aren’t necessary for artwork to have an emotional impact on the viewer, and that mainstream art culture’s idea of “great art” isn’t the only way to produce great art.

3. Rothko’s artwork seems to be directed at a more intellectual art viewer, one who is willing to appreciate more abstract forms of art.His paintings aren’t that obvious in their aesthetic appeal; it takes a more conscious effort to be emotionally impacted by them than with, say, Vermeer’s paintings.This type of viewer would probably be older, and if I had to guess, I’d say they’d tend to lean more to the upper class.”

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