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The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  245 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
One of the most important artists of the twentieth century, Mark Rothko (1903–1970) created a new and impassioned form of abstract painting over the course of his career. Rothko also wrote a number of essays and critical reviews during his lifetime, adding his thoughtful, intelligent, and opinionated voice to the debates of the contemporary art world. Although the artist n ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published March 23rd 2006 by Yale University Press (first published January 1st 2004)
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May 23, 2010 Weinz rated it really liked it
Things that interrupted the last quarter of this book today:

- Jon animatedly singing "Mr. Roboto" in my face
- Kid #1 wanting food
- Jon making weird noises to bug me
- Kid #2 playing games on computer next to me with noise level at maximum. "You got it right! You're a math STAR!"
- Jon wanting food
- Kid #3 showing me his "sssoooooper coooool firefire truck"
- Jon showing me pictures of Eh! and Tambo and Meredith
- Dog farts
- Kids #1, 2 & 3 wanting food

Why is it when you get to the end of somethi
Sep 06, 2012 Saul rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy, art
Let me start off by saying this book is perhaps one of the most fascinating works I've ever encountered. It's an incredible book, but that said, I don't feel it's comparable to other (regular) books at all. With respect to the entire process of writing, this was never fully developed. Nonetheless, it's lack of polish doesn't hinder it in any way. Written by Mark Rothko back in the 40s, it laid hidden for decades in a manila folder until Christopher Rothko (the late artists son) took the time and ...more
Ida Rand
Nov 21, 2008 Ida Rand rated it it was amazing
i will read anything about rothko, he is interesting. i wish that i cared more, that would help. this didn't cover the rothko chapel as extensively as i would have liked. i love that place, most beautiful thing i have ever seen and i have seen puppies.
Jul 12, 2010 T. rated it did not like it
(page xi) "It had a weightness and grandeur that probably exceeded its contents..."

I have abandoned the book. Maybe I am not yet ready to understand what is written here, I don't know. I love Rothko but I can't seem to get this. At times I think he's rambling more than he is reflecting. There was so much promise from the introduction written by his son, Christopher, but the subsequent sections just feel flat and uninspiring.

I was expecting to read more in-depth observations about Rothko's works
May 31, 2008 Heather rated it really liked it
Not quite a book, since it was compiled from Rothko's papers after his death. As a result it touches on a number of different topics, sometimes jumping to different tracks entirely between chapters. A recurring theme is that Rothko defends his work as figurative rather than abstract, a word which he seemed to have disliked, especially when it came from critics.

On a side note, Mark Rothko battled with despair his entire life, and ended up taking his own life. It's very difficult not to read that
Amy Neftzger
May 07, 2015 Amy Neftzger rated it liked it
Let me first state that I love Rothko's work and am also a fan of the play Red (which is about Rothko). I should also add that the written works published in this book were never polished and completed by Rothko, the manuscript having been discovered after his death. Therefore, anyone reading it should take this into account before setting expectations.

While this book is interesting and has some nice insight, I felt as if I knew Rothko better through his artistic compositions. Maybe that's becau
Ed Smiley
Aug 19, 2009 Ed Smiley rated it liked it
This work has an interesting history.

It has been published postuhumously by his children.

Mark Rothko had a tremendous verbal facility and analytical and critical skills, and perhaps, for an artist, even too much facility, or pedantry, which can become paralyzing. Words are not, after all, paint. The book was written earlier on in his career, prior to his mature style, and reflects some of his searching for what, after all, is art supposed to be?

Rothko, as you know, committed suicide years later
Feb 07, 2013 Kate rated it really liked it
Mark Rothko's book "The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art" is a verbosity telling his views of philosophy, art, and plasticity. Although the son, Christopher Rothko claimed to have cleaned up the writing from it's original version, the writing still presents itself as a virgin first draft of unedited ramblings. This goes to further support Christopher Rothko's notion in the introduction is that this book was never meant to be published.

However, there is substance past the extensive wording.
Nov 30, 2007 Gunjan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in rothko or abstract expressionism- told straight from the horse's mouth.
i'm enjoying this book, but so far only the introduction by rothko's son, chris, has proven to have any real structure where the writing's concerned. (mark)rothko's writing from 1940-1941 represents a time when his thoughts on art were changing so rapidly, that the idea of forming a cohesive theme among them was just too difficult to do on canvas. This book serves as his artistic contribution for that time period, kept in a file marked miscellaneous documents and inviting us to consider the mean ...more
Feb 22, 2016 Nivedita rated it it was amazing
The fact that this book was published from Mark Rothko's manuscripts posthumously makes it precious. I've never read a book that speaks with such honesty. This read certainly helps me in my struggle to understand modern art.
**** ".. skill itself is not an index to beauty. Of course, the artist must have sufficient means at his command to achieve his objective so that his work becomes convincingly communicative. But clearly it is something else which the art must communicate more than this...
Jun 13, 2010 SPL120 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: art historians
Recommended to SPL120 by: inspired by the play, "RED"
Possibly never really intended by Rothko for publication, as it is speculated, this was amassed during a fallow period when he stopped painting in the early '40s.

It comes across as his own history lesson; personal reminders and reinforcements to bridge the gap while he searched for new approaches to his work. Nothing is missed in attempting to understand his paintings by not reading this work. In fact, his paintings really only need to be directly experienced to be understood, in one's own pers
Jan 29, 2014 Marta rated it it was amazing
Incomparable, unique.
May 31, 2008 Susan rated it liked it
Well....I'm glad I like Rothko's paintings because his writings reeks of mediacrity. I'm suffering through this one. He's philisophising about art, its meaning and place in soceity and railing against the decroative arts. It's no coincidence that this was written the year after he left his wife, a successful jewelry designer, while his career was in the toilet.

Jul 27, 2012 Rick rated it really liked it
Shelves: recently-read
Reading this book was like taking an abbreviated art appreciation class, which I found enjoyable and informative. However, not having ever had any formal philosophy classes, I found it difficult to read. I did stick it out and in retrospect found the it a fruitful experience. I found I really connected with his long view of the interaction between art and religion.
Sep 15, 2012 Niall rated it it was amazing
Fascinating read and a great insight into Rothko especially as regards his earlier works (when the book is believed to have been written). Even in its unfinished state it is still remarkably well written and outlines a number of key beliefs of the artist himself. A pleasure to read
Bridgette Guerzon Mills
Dec 06, 2009 Bridgette Guerzon Mills rated it did not like it
Shelves: art
Marking this as read, but honestly I can't finish it! It's my third attempt. I have a hard time reading his writing and life is too short to struggle through a book. I really wanted to like it as I love his work, but my brain shuts down whenever I would start to read it.
Jun 18, 2007 Brandon rated it it was ok
Mark Rothko is one of my favorite artists. His works suggest the immense power color has to invigorate even the simplest composition. Sadly, this book is so rambling that what good ideas it does have get lost in the pomposity of his hatred for the establishment.
Kathy Augustine
Mar 10, 2009 Kathy Augustine rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Artists
Shelves: philosophy
Interesting account of Mark Rothko's intentions, ideas and purpose behind his work. Includes essays on art history, Abstract Expressionism and Rothko's philosophical inquiries. A 'must read' for all artists!
Patrick G.
Rothko from his own mouth. What more can you say? His writing parallels his painting.
Jan 08, 2009 Miryam added it
one spoonful at a time... like to go swimming in his paintings.
Apr 09, 2010 Shannon marked it as to-read
Have you seen the play Red? I want more on Rothko!
Chris Lockhart
Aug 19, 2011 Chris Lockhart rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art, philosophy
I read half of it, it was drudgery.
Apr 07, 2008 bob rated it liked it
Shelves: art
intro great, book good
Cameron Rabbit
Jan 07, 2011 Cameron Rabbit rated it liked it
truculent thing
Jun 10, 2013 Roxana rated it it was amazing
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Sep 25, 2016
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Sep 23, 2016
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Sep 20, 2016
John Mixon
John Mixon rated it it was ok
Sep 20, 2016
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American painter of Latvian Jewish descent. He immigrated with his family from Dvinsk (now part of Latvia, then part of the Russian Empire) to the United States in 1913 when he was 10 years old.

More about Mark Rothko...

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“It is the poet and philosopher who provide the community of objectives in which the artist participates. Their chief preoccupation, like the artist, is the expression in concrete form of their notions of reality. Like him, they deal with the verities of time and space, life and death, and the heights of exaltation as well as the depths of despair. The preoccupation with these eternal problems creates a common ground which transcends the disparity in the means used to achieve them.” 10 likes
“Art is such an action. It is a kindred form of action to idealism. They are both expressions of the same drive, and the man who fails to fulfill this urge in one form or another is as guilty of escapism as the one who fails to occupy himself with the satisfaction of bodily needs. In fact, the man who spends his entire life turning the wheels of industry so that he has neither time nor energy to occupy himself with any other needs of his human organism is by far a greater escapist than the one who developed his art. For the man who develops his art does make adjustments to his physical needs. He understands that man must have bread to live, while the other cannot understand that you cannot live by bread alone.” 6 likes
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