The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art
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The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  154 ratings  ·  22 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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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...more
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
(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...more
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...more
Ida Rand
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.
Ed Smiley
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...more
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....more
Nov 30, 2007 Gunjan rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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
Jun 13, 2010 SPL120 rated it 2 of 5 stars
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...more
Incomparable, unique.
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.

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.
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
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.
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 5 of 5 stars
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
I read half of it, it was drudgery.
Apr 07, 2008 bob rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: art
intro great, book good
Mpn marked it as to-read
Jun 30, 2014
Caitlin Powell
Caitlin Powell marked it as to-read
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Jun 28, 2014
Halie marked it as to-read
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Jonathan Jay Levine
Jonathan Jay Levine marked it as to-read
Jun 27, 2014
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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...
Writings on Art Mark Rothko, 1903 1970 (Revised Edition) Scritti Rothko Mark Rothko: January 12-February 10, 1990

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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.” 6 likes
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