Read The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art by Mark Rothko Christopher Rothko Kate Prizel Rothko Online


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 nOne 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 never published a book of his varied and complex views, his heirs indicate that he occasionally spoke of the existence of such a manuscript to friends and colleagues. Stored in a New York City warehouse since the artist’s death more than thirty years ago, this extraordinary manuscript, titled The Artist’s Reality, is now being published for the first time.Probably written around 1940–41, this revelatory book discusses Rothko’s ideas on the modern art world, art history, myth, beauty, the challenges of being an artist in society, the true nature of “American art,” and much more. The Artist’s Reality also includes an introduction by Christopher Rothko, the artist’s son, who describes the discovery of the manuscript and the complicated and fascinating process of bringing the manuscript to publication. The introduction is illustrated with a small selection of relevant examples of the artist’s own work as well as with reproductions of pages from the actual manuscript.The Artist’s Reality will be a classic text for years to come, offering insight into both the work and the artistic philosophies of this great painter....

Title : The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art
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ISBN : 9780300115857
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 176 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art Reviews

  • Weinz
    2018-12-02 23:12

    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 something brilliant everything in its power tries to keep you from it? The book. The introduction is beautifully written and carries a sense of melancholy from a son who lost his dad at a young age. It felt a little like this manuscript was a way to get to know his father better or at least connect to him in a way he was unable to as a child. But like many things, I may be reading too much into it. The manuscript itself tended to flit and fly from one thought to the next without a smooth flow. Although, contained within the random train of thought was brilliance. He's an artist not a writer but was still able to philosophize the whys and hows of art as he see it. You are able to see his polemic views of what he struggled with as an artist. He questions beauty. What is beauty? Is it the emotional reminder of our own humanity that moves us to finding something beautiful? Is it simply something that brings us pleasure? Is it happiness? Is it familiarity? For these questions I may have to go to Eco. For now ... this book was great, even if I did get interrupted multiple times at the best parts.

  • Saul
    2018-12-06 05:06

    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 care to have it published. That, you see, is what makes it such a wonderful read. It isn't just some prose, carefully laid out by writer, editor and publisher. No, it's much more than that. It's a rare view into the mind of a great artist, if not arguably one of America's best abstract painters.The book in many ways unfolds Rothko's thinking. One rich in both meaning and insight. Or in other terms, let me equate it to my view of Rothko's abstract paintings: somewhat obscure at first, but with time and patience, one eventually finds incredible meaning, substance and emotion.What I find especially of interest is Rothko's commentary on the role of art and science. Often people split these two, with presumptions about their different manifestations. Rothko has actually made an interesting case for their unity, and how in fact they have much more in common than we are taught to believe.I won't go into great detail. However, if you are a struggling artist in any medium, I think you'll find this book a great revelation.Of course, it's not a page turning thriller. You need to stop every now and then and think -- God forbid people should actually be forced to think while reading-- and yes, it may be somewhat slow as you stop and go, trying to tease meaning from some of Rothko's more elaborate sentences. But be assured, there is profound meaning imbedded here. The more time you invest, the greater your reward.

  • Laura
    2018-11-19 05:23

    This book is a series of Rothko reflections on different subjects such as: beauty, reality, myth, sensuality, the artist’s dilemma, the role of unconscious processes in creative work among others.The introduction was written by his son Christopher Rothko.Quotations:What is the popular conception of the artist? Gather a thousand descriptions, and the resulting composite is the portrait of a moron: he is held to be childish, irresponsible, and ignorant or stupid in everyday affairs.The picture does not necessarily involve censure or unkindness. These deficiencies are attributed to the intensity of the artist’s preoccupation with his particular kind of fantasy and to the unworldly nature of the fantastic itself. The bantering tolerance granted to the absentminded professor is extended to the artist.[…]This myth, like all myths, has many reasonable foundations. First, it attests to the common belief in the laws of compensation: that one sense will gain in sensitivity by the deficiency in another. Homer was blind, and Beethoven deaf. Too bad for them, but fortunate for us in the increased vividness of their art. But more importantly it attests to the persistent belief in the irrational quality of inspiration, finding between the innocence of childhood and the derangements of madness that true insight which is not accorded to normal man.What abetted the artist in his little game was the dogmatic unity of his civilization. For all dogmatic societies have this in common: they know what they want. Whatever the contentions behind the scenes, society is allowed only one Official Truth. The demands made upon the artist, therefore, issued from a single source, and the specifications for art were definite and unmistakable. That, at least, was something … one master is better than ten, and it is better to know the size and shape of the hand that holds the whip. In a master, definiteness and stability are preferable to caprice.

  • T.
    2018-11-30 05:03

    (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 but he never talks about them. I did some research and found out that Rothko wrote this before he had developed his signature style, so maybe that's why. Nevertheless, for all my gripes, it hasn't escaped me, too, that I might just be too young or too naive to get everything. That maybe my "cup is too full." Hoping to revisit this book in the future then.Abandoned 3:56 PM, 11 July 2010.

  • Heather
    2018-11-10 23:03

    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 into his paintings, which if you have ever seen one in person, are ponderous, heavy-weighted and on a whole, quite somber.

  • Ida Rand
    2018-11-16 07:17

    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
    2018-11-11 23:13

    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 and it is perhaps too much to read this ultimate frustration with life into a much earlier work. He felt that publishing it would lead to critical confusion in his lifetime. Given that, the most interesting portion and most clearly defined portion in my opinion, is his question of "plasticity", in other words, what makes a work of painting succeed as a painting? His answer is really that there are two answers. One is to choose the plastic values and emotional timbre in specific images chosen to fulfill them, as one sees in the extreme in academic painting. The other is to choose the plastic values of the painting _itself_ as one sees with the advent of modernism. Although a continuum does apply, people usually fall into one of two camps, and denigrate the other on the basis of applying the other standard. He also uses the words "visual" for the former, and "tactile" for the latter. His basis for the distinction was that the first kind of art wishes us to see beautiful objects and they are seen inside the painting not inside out actual space that we can touch, whereas in the second kind of painting, the painting itself is made to be a beautiful object and its space is touchable.Marshall McCluhan used a similar distinction later on to establish what he meant by cool and hot, and confused everybody, but far before this book was finally published.The latter part of the book was programmatic, perhaps OK for a critic, but not so fine for an artist, and it doesn't wear well with time (although it does point to some of the high-art existential angst that became evident in the abstract expressionist era, and a mythology that transitioned from the image to the act). He describes a search for a timeless, and yet contemporary myth, which reflects some of the concerns of his transitional work. His work ended up looking for the sublime in expansive, and solemn shimmering sheets of color, without a trace of myth in any direct sense.

  • Gunjan
    2018-11-20 07:06

    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 meaning of the artist's reality. essentially, rothko's point and defense of his work can be found in a simple idea. he wants us to understand that it's the negative stuff we experience in life that unites us, not the positive. his tri-colored pieces(often criticized for being too simplistic), desire to evoke that same feeling one would get from a shared, important experience. he believes that universal emotionalism in relationship to the individual is found only in tragic emotionality. by looking at how his colors work together, we're meant to be moved in that same way as we would when having a religious experience. sounds like something hippy dippy, huh? i'm still reading...

  • Kate
    2018-11-24 05:26

    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. Mark Rothko has definitely put a lot of thought into the manuscript in what he is trying to portray.I picked through this book with a fine comb, wrote in the margins, and even rewrote some of the chapters in my own wording to understand this (things I never did before with a book). The positive end result is mostly practical. I became able to articulate artistic philosophy more effectively, hich is good if you're like me and participating in a college level art or art history class. The negative part is that it's going to take a long time for my brain to reconform itself from the oatmeal it became trying to comprehend the concepts in this book.

  • Amy Neftzger
    2018-11-12 00:03

    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 because visual art is his native language, and he's more fluent in light, shapes, and color than in the written word. There are some gaps and rough spots that made the book feel incomplete, but the volume still serves as an introduction to the artist's philosophy and perspective on the state of the art world during his lifetime.This book will be primarily of interest to Rothko's fans and admirers, and there are a few gleanings for art students. That said, there are some wonderful quotes about art and artists that I really enjoyed.

  • Nivedita
    2018-12-11 23:20

    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... The fact that one or more of us can receive this communication originating in another person - the artist - attests to the existence of an abstract quality; one that the artist strives to achieve and that we may recognize."***isn't it rare to read an unedited version of an artists thoughts?

  • T.
    2018-11-30 07:28

    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 personal fashion. Superior to this treatise is the Broadway play, "RED," starring Alfred Molina, which is far more contemporaneously political and illuminating of his motivations, beliefs and struggles with his art.

  • Susan
    2018-11-21 07:10

    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.

  • Rick
    2018-11-19 04:11

    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.

  • Bridgette Guerzon Mills
    2018-12-07 03:22

    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.

  • Brandon
    2018-11-26 23:02

    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
    2018-12-02 04:18

    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!

  • Niall
    2018-12-05 06:22

    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

  • David
    2018-11-29 02:19

    Tho' I'm not a fan of Rothko's art, I found his philosophies on Art quite good and thought provoking. Would recommend to any artist - he mostly refers to the plastic arts, but I feel this could be applied to any.

  • Patrick G.
    2018-11-22 02:17

    Rothko from his own mouth. What more can you say? His writing parallels his painting.

  • John
    2018-12-09 05:25

  • Marta
    2018-11-16 00:12

    Incomparable, unique.

  • Chris Lockhart
    2018-12-05 23:06

    I read half of it, it was drudgery.

  • Miryam
    2018-11-20 23:29

    one spoonful at a time... like to go swimming in his paintings.

  • Cameron Blaylock
    2018-11-17 02:07

    truculent thing

  • Roxana
    2018-12-12 07:28


  • Shannon
    2018-11-25 02:16

    Have you seen the play Red? I want more on Rothko!

  • bob
    2018-11-19 23:01

    intro great, book good