A fabulous book that really gives great insight into the man who would evolve into one the greatest, if not the greatest, of the "Abstract Expressionists". He brings to life a man who was never satisfied with himself, his work, or his environment and struggled with his isolation and depression throughout his creative life. One of the most terrific features of this book is Breslin's research into the artists' painting methods and working habits. He explains Rothko's use of glazes and pigment combinations to create the internal glow of his shapes. He portrays Rothko as a non-religious yet highly spiritual man who looked upon his works as his gifts to humanity that should if viewed properly project the viewer into a private world of knowledge and understanding. His relationship with his paintings before and after their sale proved to be extremely interesting. Rothko states " Paintings are skins that are shed and hung on a wall" He felt they were pieces of his life and could not be exchanged and simply forgotten as if they were objects or commodities. Rothko couldn't tolerate infidelity with his art he felt it an act of betrayal if the purchaser decided to trade or sell the work and he would refuse to sell more work to any violator of that trust. Rothko's relationships with his fellow iconic painters is also described and creates a wonderful backdrop for the understanding of this magnificent painter.
Robert Motherwell was a fabulous artist and writer. He majored in philosphy in college and possessed a critical and observant mind. This book contains a huge percentage of his writings on many subjects: political tracks, thoughts on painting movement, the painting process, his own teaching philosphy, and eulogies and rememberances of some of his great contemporaries Pollock, Kline, Rothko, and Smith. Although he was a complex thinker and and as a result a very hard to digest writer, it will be well worth your time to go through this master abstract painters writings. He gives a wonderfully intimate insight into the energetic and creative atmosphere of the early formative years of the New York Abstract School.
Here are several wonderful quotes from the book "A painting is not a picture of something in front of your eyes. It is an attack on the medium which comes to mean something" p. 214
"Nothing as drastic an innovation as abstract art could have come into existence save as a consequence of a most profound need"