Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Mark Rothko Retrospektive

My Munich buddies and I packed into the Kunsthalle to see the Mark Rothko exhibit last week with all kinds of folk eager to catch the show in its last weeks. After a read through his biography (beware the surprise ending) we took a stroll through a string of galleries which nicely traced his progression from representative scenes to the abstract color forms that we all know and love (and which, shame on me for saying so, make nice greeting cards). 

Once we were into the color forms ("Multiforms" sayeth my flyer) section of the gallery, there was no going back – maybe this is how Rothko felt – we were stuck in feeling-land, moving from mood to mood with a decreasing number descriptive titles to light our way. As we moved into the tall room with his works of consuming proportion, I started to feel as fuzzy as the edges of his paintings.

I missed it, but somewhere in the exhibition, Frau B. told me, Rothko was quoted as saying that his paintings should ideally be viewed individually in an isolated places, as a religious encounter. If his art is an experience of this sort, it then seems strange to bombard an audience with a hundred experiences in short succession. Museums and galleries are the not in the business of spiritual experience, I realize, but the disconnect bothered me. Future museum curators take note! The (this) common person cannot handle so much experience in one afternoon and likes to follow the artist's instructions.

No comments: