Mark Rothko on Art
The recipe of a work of art
- There must be a clear preoccupation with death; intimations of mortality...tragic art, romantic art, etc. all deal with the knowledge of death.
- Sensuality - our basis of being concrete about the world. It is a lustful relationship to things that exist.
- Tension - either conflict or curbed desire.
- Irony - this is a modern ingredient—the self-effacement and examination by which a man for an instant can go on to something else.
- Wit and Play - for the human element.
- The ephemeral and chance - for the human element.
- Hope - 10% to make the tragic concept more endurable.
I measure these ingredients very carefully when I paint a picture. It is always the form that follows these elements and the picture results from the proportions of these elements…
- Mark Rothko (from a 1958 lecture at the Pratt Institute)