Mark Rothko Quotes

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famous Mark Rothko quotations
Inspirational Art Quotes by the famous American/ Russian / Latvian artist Mark Rothko
Born Marcus Yakovlevich Rothkowitz - Dvinsk, Russian Empire (Now Latvia) - 25th of September, 1903 / Died New York, United States 25th of February, 1970
Famous Mark Rothko works include large abstract expressionist paintings which can evoke feelings of darkness and melancholy or lightness and the spiritual, depending on the colors and brushwork used.

Mark Rothko Quotes


  • "A painting is not about an experience. It is an experience."
    Mark Rothko
  • "It was with the utmost reluctance that I found the figure could not serve my purposes. But a time came when none of us could use the figure without mutilating it."
    Mark Rothko
  • "The progression of a painter's work as it travels in time from point to point, will be toward clarity.. toward the elimination of all obstacles between the painter and the idea.. and the idea and the observer.. To achieve this clarity is inevitably to be understood."
    Mark Rothko
  • "I do not believe that there was ever a question of being abstract or representational. It is really a matter of ending this silence and solitude, of breathing, and stretching one's arms again transcendental experiences became possible."
    Mark Rothko
  • "Since my pictures are large, colorful and unframed, and since museum walls are usually immense and formidable, there is the danger that the pictures relate themselves as decorative areas to the walls. This would be a distortion of their meaning, since the pictures are intimate and intense, and are the opposite of what is decorative."
    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
  • "The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when I painted them. And if you, as you say, are moved only by their color relationships, then you miss the point."
    Mark Rothko
  • "It is a widely accepted notion among painters that it does not matter what one paints as long as it is well painted. This is the essence of academicism. There is no such thing as good painting about nothing."
    Mark Rothko
  • "I think of my pictures as dramas; the shapes in the pictures are the performers. They have been created from the need for a group of actors who are able to move dramatically without embarrassment and execute gestures without shame. Neither the action nor the actors can be anticipated, or described in advance."
    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
  • "One does not paint for design students or historians but for human beings, and the reaction in human terms is the only thing that is really satisfactory to the artist."
    Mark Rothko

  • "I paint very large pictures. I realize that historically the function of painting large pictures is painting something very grandiose and pompous. The reason I paint them, however – I think it applies to other painters I know – is precisely because I want to be very intimate and human. To paint a small picture is to place yourself outside your experience. However you paint the larger picture, you are in it."
    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 a risky and unfeeling act to send it out into the world. How often it must be permanently impaired by the eyes of the vulgar and the cruelty of the impotent who would extend the affliction universally."
    Mark Rothko
  • "To us art is an adventure into an unknown world, which can be explored only by those willing to take the risk."
    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."
    Mark Rothko
  • "I think of my pictures as dramas; the shapes in the pictures are the performers. They have been created from the need for a group of actors who are able to move dramatically without embarrassment and execute gestures without shame."
    Mark Rothko
  • "The romantics were prompted to seek exotic subjects and to travel to far off places. They failed to realize that, though the transcendental must involve the strange and unfamiliar, not everything strange or unfamiliar is transcendental. The unfriendliness of society to his activity is difficult for the artists to accept. Yet this very hostility can act as a lever for true liberation."
    Mark Rothko
  • "One does not paint for design students or historians but for human beings, and the reaction in human terms is the only thing that is really satisfactory to the artist."
    Mark Rothko
  • "I insist upon the equal existence of the world engendered in the mind and the world engendered by God outside of it. If I have faltered in the use of familiar objects, it is because I refuse to mutilate their appearance for the sake of an action which they are too old to serve, or for which perhaps they had never been intended. I quarrel with surrealists and abstract art only as one quarrels with his father and mother; recognizing the inevitability and function of my roots, but insistent upon my dissent; I, being both they, and an integral completely independent of them."
    Mark Rothko

Pages related to the Mark Rothko quotations include: Gerhard Richter Quotes, Jasper Johns Quotes, Abstract Quotes, Painters, Russians, and Famous American Artists.

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