Book Reviews - Spring 2016

Speaking in Form and Color

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The extraordinary paintings of an ordinary man

Left, Mark Rothko, Yorktown Heights, ca. 1949. (Consuelo Kanaga/Brooklyn Museum); right: Mark Rothko’s Yellow over Purple, 1956 (Yale University Press)

By Lincoln Perry

February 29, 2016

Mark Rothko: From the Inside Out by Christopher Rothko; Yale University Press, 302 pp., $35

Mark Rothko (1902–1970), whose paintings have mystified and entranced viewers for more than half a century, considered himself an extremely fortunate man. Now this good fortune includes a new book by his devoted son, whose collection of linked essays serves as a down-to-earth guide to (and guardian of) his father’s oeuvre. Like father, like son: both want art to speak for itself through form and color rather than narrative content, to aspire to the emotional power of instrumental music, to directly communicate universal truths.

Although Christopher Rothko is a practicing psychoanalyst as well as the custodian of his father’s estate, he generally refrains from the biographical approach to art, and he works to deflate readings of his father’s paintings that attempt to ground the artist’s inspiration in, say, his Jewishness or Latvian childhood.

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Lincoln Perry is an artist who works in many media, from oils to terra-cotta sculpture. He has shown throughout the United States.

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