Thursday, April 29, 2010

Largest Private Collection of Mark Rothko Works Exhibited in Moscow

Moscow's Garage Center for Contemporary Culture is currently exhibiting 13 paintings from the world's largest private Mark Rothko collection. Titled "Mark Rothko: Into an Unknown World," this is Moscow's first large-scale exhibition devoted to the artist and focus on Rothko's mature period (1949 - 1969).

Included in the exhibition are studies for all three of the artist's famous mural projects: the Seagram Murals for the restaurant of the Seagram Building in New York, murals for the Holyoke Center at Harvard University and for the Rothko Chapel at the University of St. Thomas in Houston. A gray and black painting that Rothko completed shortly before his suicide in 1970 is also on display. This marks the first time these paintings have been shown together.

Rothko, born in 1903, explored surrealism and symbolism early in his career and later broke with representation in developing his signature style. The artist is best known for his post-1940s large canvases, on which he used luminous thin block coloring in reacting against the cubism of Picasso and the abstract cubism of Mondrian.

As the Moscow exhibition shows, Rothko's canvases became darker over the years, and his final works were devoid of color all together. This, along with Rothko's desire for dim lighting at his exhibitions (which the Moscow gallery is adhering to) reveal the artist's mounting struggles with depression, which became worse as he got older.

While Rothko has been a fixture of 20th century American Art - with his works included in the 20th century American art collections of some of the world's most well-known art museums (like the MoMA, Met, Tate, etc), it's interesting to note that the Russian art world is just now hosting its first large-scale Rothko exhibition. This is especially intriguing because the artist was actually born in Russia (a city formerly known as Dvinsk, which is now Daugavpils, Latvia). While it's debated, most experts say that Rothko's Russian heritage never really influence his work.

Click here to read the Moscow Times article associated with this post

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Unmasking the Art of the Mask

Whether worn to a costume party, purchased during Mardi Gras, or used in sacred African rituals, masks are part of various cultures and traditions around the world. Their artistic beauty, however, is often just as important and valued as their purpose. Likewise, their decorative nature and varied designs make them important and desired items to view, learn about and collect.During a previous trip to Venice, I fell in love with the city's numerous mask and costume shops (among other things). I purchased an ornately rhinestoned golden plaster mask - one that I myself never intend to wear - but rather look at it as a unique piece of art that sticks out among my growing collection.Two Colorado art collectors - Gary Hixon and his wife Carol Ann, feel strongly about collecting masks as well. The couple has built an impressive mask collection, beginning with Gary's own creation, for which he made for the Fort Collins Museum of Contemporary Art's signature Fundraising event in 2004. Over the past six years, the couple has obtained masks by many local artists and one by Colorado Senator Bob Bacon. Many of Hixon's masks will be on display at "Masks at MoCA" (through May 7th), an exhibit of 50 dazzling masks as well as an auction of 150 new masks made by local artists and community members. The auction will raise money for the museum's educational programs.
Wendy Franzen, a mask artist and collector (who also created ART342 with her husband, an artist-in-residency program), recently discussed the FCMoCA's Mask Exhibition:

"The artists are taking more risks. That first year [2004], most people just painted their mask. There weren't the sculptural pieces or the pieces where the mask is set into other elements, all the things you see now. Each year it expands more and more with ideas. They never seem to run out of ideas."Click here to check out some tips on mask collecting