Marden: Rothko was the shining light in terms of everything I'm thinking. He was the one who showed that you could be that way, just make beautiful paintings. I thought that those black and gray paintings at the end simply ranked right up there with the best ones. I remember going to the Rothko Foundation with (David) Novros to see hundreds of un-mounted paintings on paper, and we got up on these ladders and we were flipping through them; it was just incredible. Maybe I was too young to be able to make the right kind of judgment, but it seems to me that there was just something different than Kline and De Kooning. To me, what he talked about, what he believed in, is all invested in the paintings, so you're responding to that, you're sort of thinking along those lines while seeing the paintings. It can be a very intense, moving experience, unlike any other. When you're in the Chapel looking at his paintings, especially if you're standing there long enough, the painting will engulf you. It is definitely the most elevating, spiritual experience. You're best not distancing yourself from the situation, at least for me personally. Then you start trying to figure out how he does it. He really had this thing about intensifying beauty. He presents color in his own way, it becomes all about color, but it's not color, it's drama, but drama is too light a word. These terms almost seem cliched, but it's true. He's really otherworldly. In one of the Rothko books that came out last year they asked him what is the ideal viewing distance from your painting and he said, seventeen inches. And there're always pictures of him standing there. And you go back and look at them and he's absolutely right. And you to any museum, and they just hang his paintings in a room with other works of art, and it just doesn't work. He needs his own space. There was a point when I studied some of those monochromatic paintings and it made me push color in a certain way, not at all similar to how people had referred to his sense of color to Matisse or Bonnard. Rothko is simply a very, very tough painter.

from In Conversation Brice Marden with Jeffrey Weiss

thanks to Bill Corbett for sending this


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