Looking at Rothko
Take in the contemplative pleasures of Mark Rothko’s paintings.
Marie La Viña
Jan 5, 2023
To celebrate the first installment in MoMA’s 2023 Collection Exhibition series—Mark Rothko, opening on January 6 in Gallery 403—we share this reflection about looking at the artist’s work from Museum staff member Marie La Viña. On the first Friday of every month—when the Museum stays open until 8:00 p.m. and offers free admission to New Yorkers—these exhibitions will invite audiences to continue to explore MoMA’s dynamic collection and connect with art and ideas from more places and perspectives than ever before.
Still, one stands before a Rothko and recognizes its human scale, notices the presence of his hand in the feathered, uneven brushstrokes and the irregular forms, in their soft, diaphanous edges, in the canvas sealed with rabbit-skin glue and layered with oils and handmade pigment mixed with resin or egg. By turns bold, smudged, blended, hazy, translucent, the layers capture a sense of time, in variations of matte and gloss and opacity, in thin washes of paint full of movement. Certain forms are obscured so that others emerge. Colors hover and recede, flicker and glow, shining through each other. Brilliant yellows and reds, vivid blues give way to deep greens and somber violets, the glaze of dark from his later palette. All disclose human gestures.
Marie La Viña grew up in Manila and Los Angeles. She works at The Museum of Modern Art.
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