Mark Rothko / Tons of verbiage, activity and consumption
Tons of verbiage, activity and consumption
Mark Rothko's views on what was happening to art in 1969 are worth examining. What would he make of the art world today?
I'd like to introduce a guest blogger today. His name is Mark Rothko, and I think you'll find his remarks about the way the art world is going provocative - even though he made them, in a speech accepting an honorary doctorate from Yale University, in 1969.
"I want to thank the university and the awards committee for the honour you have chosen to confer on me. You must believe me that the acceptance of such honours is as difficult as the problem of where to bestow them.
"When I was a younger man, art was a lonely thing; no galleries, no collectors, no critics, no money. Yet it was a golden time, for then we had nothing to lose and a vision to gain. Today it is not quite the same. It is a time of tons of verbiage, activity, and consumption. Which condition is better for the world at large I will not venture to discuss. But I do know that many who are driven to this life are desperately searching for those pockets of silence where they can root and grow. We must all hope that they find them."
The "tons of verbiage, activity, and consumption" he speaks of means the world of pop art and minimalism, magazines like Artforum and 1960s collectors like Ethel and Robert Scull.
The art world has, of course, grown a lot richer and noisier since then. Would Rothko have enjoyed this season's London art fairs? We'll never know - he killed himself in 1970. These words constitute his last public statement.