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  • Post published:May 14, 2019

Rothko at KHM Vienna: lightness between clarity and sacred contemplation


© By Sheila 

It is modern art to dream. For the first time, the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna is dedicating an exhibition to Mark Rothko. Uniquely beautiful and with plenty of room for your own thoughts, despite the many visitors. Here are my most concise impressions.

If people are looking for sacred experiences, they will find them here.
If they are looking for profane experiences, they will find them too.
I do not take any sides.
-Mark Rothko

Mark Rothko is one of the main representatives of abstract expressionism, an artist who paved the way for color-field painting. He goes into depth, processes the past and seeks the timeless. Works with spirituality and finds emotion. It is interesting that his path was strongly influenced by four trips to Europe, on which his wife Mell and later also his children accompanied him. From these, as one of his colleagues once remarked, he came back as a different person. Among others, he felt a deep connection to Greek temples and loved, as his daughter Kate said at a later time, Italy. These influences of European art can easily be seen in his œuvre. Especially Michelangelo Bounarroti and Vermeer resonate here.

The influences of Rothko's trips to Europe are clearly visible.

Often, it is exhausting for me to attend exhibitions of modern art, even if I like to do so. This is, at least for me, largely due to a desire to understand the variety of emotions that come to me when processing the artworks. No quiet admiration, but rather it is often a certain irritation, amusement, joy, incomprehension and anger over the latter, just to name a few. Why have Rothko’s works calmed me down then? I do not know, because without question they are deep and powerful. Perhaps the explanation lies in one of my favorites, one of the large-format “Seagram murals” by Mark Rothko.

One of the artworks by Mark Rothko displayed in Vienna.
My favorite work of art at the Mark Rothko exhibition in Vienna: One of the "Seagram Murals".

I could sit and look at this picture forever. It treats human emotions and their drama. Rothko’s quest for clarity becomes clear and transmits itself. It is probably this power that has strengthened me and inspired me to visit the exhibition again for a second time within a week: the returning to the reflection of our self and its feelings. Quiet, in the midst of Rothko’s colors.

Unique work of Art by Mark Rothko.
"Hierarchical Birds", 1943-45.

Guide: The rich exhibition leads chronologically through the evolution of Rothko’s art, from the figurative works he created at the beginning of his career to the world-famous abstract art he created in the 1950s and 1960s. The stations and developments of Rothko are broken down detailed and without overloading. A clear recommendation for visitors of the KHM Vienna.

Clear recommendation: The Mark Rothko exhibition in Vienna.
Not tiring at all, but inspiring and spiritual: Mark Rothko in Vienna.

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