Monday, August 31, 2009

Rothko and uses of materials.

After visiting the National Gallery in DC last year, and taking a number of photos. Most of which didn't come out the way I had hoped because these new cameras pretty much always need a tripod, if you aren't using the flash.

I was visiting the section with all the Rothko's and Newman's, one thing really hit me about the one particular painting from the Seagram Mural job he did. How crappily it had been painted.

As you can see in these pics. The one painting from the Seagram murals has got some pretty crappy paint that Rothko used in these paintings. I don't know what the hell kind of paint he had used on these paintings. But it sure wasn't artists grade oil or acrylic paint.

I've heard many stories about how he was always using cheap materials in his paintings. Which is not what one should be doing when you are a serious painter as he was. You can look in these pics and see where one section of paint has bled through the rest of the paint on top of it. It almost looks as if someone had taken a torch to that section to make the other paint seep through the top coat.

Seeing this really bothered me, as I really try to take as good care of my paintings as I possibly can. As do my other painter friends. Only in my very first paintings were I not using high grade artist acrylic paint.

Thinking about this painting and it's bad aging, leads me to think of the Rothko Chapel in Houston where he has his largest paintings. Which from his uses of materials, and his being stingy with the cash flow he had been given for the set of paintings. We today will never be able to see the paintings as they were when they left his studio. I know they have been "restored" but in cases of restoration, it never turns out the same way as the original had been the day it was finished. If you want to learn a bit about how restorers can be, just read the book "I was Vermeer"'ll tell you about a number of ways restorers over the years have screwed up painting after painting.

Here's where you can really see some of the results of using inferior materials. Thankfully he didn't do this on all of his paintings.

So in lieu of the above. Please let me say to all of you painters out there who wish to be selling paintings like crazy. Give a thought to the future and how you would want these paintings to look after 50 years, 100 years, and then ask this house paint really something I should be using on this canvas. Think about the people who will become your patrons, spending their well earned money on a painting of yours only to have it fall apart after 15-20 years. And go to your local artist supply store and put down some money on the good stuff. You'll feel a lot better about it in the future, when you can look at your paintings and they still look as good as the day you finished them.

I have also seen a number of older Twombly's where they are now under glass, as the paint has literally fallen off the weave of the canvas.

Oh it's so sad to see great paintings go bad.

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Columbus, Ohio, United States