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A collection of quotes and thoughts by Mark Rothko on art, color, expression, modern, artists, poet, philosophers, democracy, sadness, silence and creation.

27 Motivational Mark Rothko Quotes To Inspire The Artist In You

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Painter

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Born In
Daugavpils, Latvia

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Mark Rothko was a popular American abstract expressionist painter of Russian Jewish descent. After completing his studies from Yale, he enrolled at ‘New York School of Design’.  He used to view painting as tools of expressing emotions. His first exhibition was at ‘Open Gallery’ in the year 1928.  During this period he was hardly recognized as a painter and had a parallel job of teaching clay sculpture and painting at the ‘Center Academy’. Few years later he exhibited his art work along with the works of few of his students at ‘Portland Art Museum’. This display brought him success and was followed by his first solo display of paintings at ‘Contemporary Art Gallery’. Thereafter, he continued exhibiting his paintings at different galleries. ‘Untitled’ and ‘No18’ are considered to be his best works till date. He even authored an essay titled, ‘The Romantics Were Prompted’. ‘Rothko Chapel’ is one of his most celebrated works that came out in 1960s. Here is a collection of some notable quotes and sayings by the famous postwar artist that you must not miss. Go through the inciting quotes and thoughts by Mark Rothko.

Silence is so accurate.

- Mark Rothko

I'm not an abstractionist. I'm not interested in the relationship of color or form or anything else. I'm interested only in expressing basic human emotions: tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on.

- Mark Rothko

It is really a matter of ending this silence and solitude, of breathing and stretching one's arms again.

- Mark Rothko

There is only one thing I fear in life, my friend: One day, the black will swallow the red.

- Mark Rothko

The fact that people break down and cry when confronted with my pictures shows that I can communicate those basic human emotions.. the people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when painting them. And if you say you are moved only by their color relationships then you miss the point.

- Mark Rothko

The most interesting painting is one that expresses more of what one thinks than of what one sees

- Mark Rothko

To me art is an adventure into an unknown world, which can be explored only by those willing to take the risk.

- Mark Rothko

A painting is not a picture of an experience, but is the experience.

- Mark Rothko

When I was a younger man, art was a lonely thing. No galleries, no collectors, no critics, no money. Yet, it was a golden age, for we all had nothing to lose and a vision to gain. Today it is not quite the same. It is a time of tons of verbiage, activity, consumption. Which condition is better for the world at large I shall not venture to discuss. But I do know, that many of those who are driven to this life are desperately searching for those pockets of silence where we can root and grow. We must all hope we find them.

- Mark Rothko

There is more power in telling little than in telling all.

- Mark Rothko

The reason for my painting large canvases is that I want to be intimate and human. To paint a small picture is to place yourself outside your experience, to look upon an experience as a stereopticon view or with a reducing glass. However you paint the larger picture, you are in it. It isn't something you command.

- Mark Rothko

You think my paintings are calm, like windows in some cathedral? You should look again. I'm the most violent of all the American painters. Behind those colours there hides the final cataclysm.

- Mark Rothko

Art to me is an anecdote of the spirit,

- Mark Rothko

If you are only moved by color relationships, you are missing the point. I am interested in expressing the big emotions - tragedy, ecstasy, doom.

- Mark Rothko

Pictures must be miraculous.

- Mark Rothko

I am here to make you think. . . . I am not here to make pretty pictures!

- Mark Rothko

The artist invites the spectator to take a journey within the realm of the canvas... Without taking the journey, the spectator has really missed the essential experience of the picture.

- Mark Rothko

The progression of a painter’s work…will be toward clarity; toward the elimination of all obstacles between the painter and the idea, and between the idea and the observer…to achieve this clarity is, inevitably, to be understood.

- Mark Rothko

Without monsters and gods, art cannot enact a drama.

- Mark Rothko

For, while the authority of the doctor or plumber is never questioned, everyone deems himself a good judge and an adequate arbiter of what a work of art should be and how it should be done.

- The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art, Mark Rothko

I will say without reservations that from my point of view there can be no abstractions. Any shape or area that has not the pulsating concreteness of real flesh and bones, its vulnerability to pleasure or pain is nothing at all. Any picture that does not provide the environment in which the breath of life can be drawn does not interest me.

- Mark Rothko

I'm not an abstractionist... I'm not interested in relationships of colour or form or anything else.

- Mark Rothko

The people that weep before my paintings are having the same religious experience that I had when I painted it.

- Mark Rothko

The abstract artist has given material existence to many unseen worlds and tempi.

- Mark Rothko

I use colors that have already been experienced through the light of day and through the state of mind of the total man. In other words, my colors are not colors that are laboratory tools which are isolated from all accidentals or impurities so that they have a specified identity or purity.

- Mark Rothko

A picture lives by companionship, expanding and quickening in the eyes of the sensitive observer. It dies by the same token. It is therefore risky to send it out into the world. How often it must be impaired by the eyes of the unfeeling and the cruelty of the impotent.

- Mark Rothko

It is the poet and philosopher who provide the community of objectives in which the artist participates. Their chief preoccupation, like the artist, is the expression in concrete form of their notions of reality. Like him, they deal with the verities of time and space, life and death, and the heights of exaltation as well as the depths of despair. The preoccupation with these eternal problems creates a common ground which transcends the disparity in the means used to achieve them.

- Mark Rothko