Saturday, October 11, 2008

Rothko at Tate Modern

Mark Rothko, The Late Series is at Tate Modern, spread across 9 rooms it focuses on his works from the 50's and 60's.
A superb collection of works including 'sketches', works on paper his iconic murals.
The two field compositions, Brown and Gray, (left) on paper were begun in late 1968. They were a concious move towards a new 'series' of works of almost uniform format. The range of tonal hues is incredible and having them together in one romm without the distraction of more colourful pieces adds to the sense of brooding drama.
Untitled, 1958, (right) is on loan from the Kawamura Memorial Museum of Art, Sakura, Japan. In the exhibition it is hung in the main room with many other richly saturated murals. One of the aspects of this particular mural that fascinates me is the way that the colours change depending on the angle from which you are viewing them. From certain angles the inner edges of the reds glow firey orange, form another angle they become more muted and the maroon background takes on a more bluish hue. I could immerse myself in this for hours and still not feel that I had plumbed its depths.
The Black on Gray series (left) were Rothko's final 'series' and like the Brown and Gray series were on paper. Although the black lacks the depth of tones that appear in the Black-Form paintings it's relative uniformity is a perfect foil for the sensuous hues of the grays (although to call these areas 'gray' feels such an understatement of the range colours that are present as to be almost insulting). Again these painting being together without the distraction of more colourful works is ideal.
There were many beautiful books on Rothko for sale but none of them can really do justice to the real thing, prints on glossy paper can't reproduce the tonal ranges or textures any more than these photos can. However they do provide informative texts and visual memories of a fabulous show. For me the only down side was having to share the works with so many other visitors - the constant chatter and movement are distracting and at time hard to tune-out.

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