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Milton J. Madison - An American Refugee Now Living in China, Where Liberty is Ascending

Federalism, Free Markets and the Liberty To Let One's Mind Wander. I Am Very Worried About the Fate of Liberty in the USA, Where Government is Taking people's Lives ____________________________________________________________________________________________ "Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice. Tolerance in the face of tyranny is no virtue." -Barry Goldwater-

Sunday, May 14, 2006


I took my 2 months shy of 3 years old daughter to a special showing this past Thursday of the Rothko exhibit at the Hong Kong Museum of Art. She is a budding artist and has expressed her thoughts on the canvass of our walls, couch and other assundry household items as of late. Additionally, she loves drawing on her hands, arms and legs and has ink, paints and other colors under her fingernails, like an artist would!


Sometimes, I wonder how these guys get so popular. Somebody thought that he was important enough to buy his paintings or a curator of some world-class museum show his works while he was still producing. I wonder if success at art is true talent, good salemanship, stupid luck, or something more complex and indefinable. His work is not something that would "wow" me if I was to see them someplace out of the institutionalized factories of intellectualism that modern museums are these days. In fact, when I worked across the street from the Four Season's Restaurant, we used to occasionally go there for after work drinks, I do not recall seeing his pieces there, and they may have been hanging in the place since 1959. However, I do recall the curtains and that the place was designed by Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson. So, I guess that I should go back and have a look.

Among the founders of the New York School, his work concentrated on basic emotions, often filling the canvas with very few, but intense colours, using little immediately-apparent detail. In this respect, he can also be considered to presage the Color Field painters, such as Helen Frankenthaler. However, "Rothko repeatedly protested, 'I'm not interested in color' and 'I'm not a colorist.' Color, he explained, was nothing more than an 'instrument' for expressing something larger: the all important 'subjects' of his pictures" (Chave 1989).
A couple of interesting quotes from the fellow....
"I am not an abstract painter. I am not interested in the relationship between form and colour. The only thing I care about is the expression of man's basic emotions: tragedy, ecstacy, destiny."
Square blocks of color expressing the complex emotions of people? I just don't get this comment.

And this one is particularly ballsie...
"The fact that people break down and cry when confronted with my pictures shows that I can communicate those basic human emotions.. the people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when painting them. And if you say you are moved only by their color relationships then you miss the point."
I have to tell you, if I paid multimillions for these things, I may have cried too if I saw this...

But some of his earlier works reminded me of Klee and Kandinsky from the Bauhaus School of art and architecture. It kind of has a doodling quality of Kandinsky and his later work the seriousness of Klee and the complexity of his colors.

I suppose, that seeing his work and spending time actually looking at it has caused me to think about these big blocks and blobs of rough color for these past several days. It has got me wondering and thinking about what he thought the purpose of his paintings are. How he thought about engaging you when you looked upon these pieces and what he was attempting to do. Did he just put on paper his emotions and his vision or did he try to draw out thoughts and emotions from you by playing with these shapes and colors?

His grave. Paul Klee. Wassily Kandinsky.

And for fun, Gary Cooper's grave. And Yul Brenner's grave.


At 7:34 PM, Blogger fumier said...

I don't get it either.I've had a Rothko print within view on the wall of the adjacent office for three years, and every time I look at it I think "WTF?"


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