Tragedy, Ecstasy, Doom, and So On.
Went to MoMA last week, wandered about looking at everything while moving along, only stopping if I see something I want to look at longer. I rarely stop in the abstract expressionist rooms. I find their work boring, all form and no content. But Rothko is strangely compelling. But for art there that’s more strange, give me Duchamp or more compelling, give me Kollwitz.
I come around a corner and to find an orange Rothko, but in front of it is standing a woman in a dress of almost an identical orange. And, as quickly, she’s gone. For an instant, that Rothko had content.
There were a bunch of scholars (philosopher/shrinks) writing about art in the fifties, the whole form and content thing: Art as a dream made public, Art as a dream full of latent as well as manifest content, Art as a dream content and form all mixed up.
Or, can it be divided thusly: Content from the creature, the creator and form from the culture, the critics…
OK, doc, the woman in the museum is not the women in the drawing. The woman in the museum was larger and in a baggy dress, plus she had had a child in tow. She was, not at all, this thin woman of indeterminate age in a tailored suit. And she wasn’t looking at the painting either. The ordinary mother and child would have made a stronger contrast to the aesthetic object that was the Rothko, but I couldn’t do it.
…a repression, reacted to and sublimated, perhaps. An auto-pathography in pixels.
Quotes from Rothko: “There is no such thing as good painting about nothing.” and “I’m interested only in expressing basic human emotions: tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on.” He might as well be saying (or painting), “Ceci n’est pas une pipe.” I’m confused by what he paints v. what he says, but still, Rothko is as good as that “group” gets. Do read about him, he was an interesting man.
Is it a fallacy of intention (another topic of the philosopher/shrinks) to pay any attention to what artists say–assuming they tell us the truth about what they think they think and feel– and to judge their art on that? If you declare yourself a pure critic with no taint of creator in you, the answer is yes. However, who among us will do so?