Black in Deep Red

7:00 AM

Mark Rothko, Black in Deep Red, 1957
By KATHERINE GRABOWSKY
At first sight, I did not understand Mark Rothko’s work. His paintings confused me. I knew there was a meaning to them, but I couldn’t quite dig deep enough to understand his intentions. Now, looking at Rothko’s Black in Deep Red painted in 1957, I see movement. The shades of red seem to flow together, and the black abruptly stands out. Vibrant red bordering the bottom box as the stark black blends into the box brings the colors to life with vibrant energy. The red background does not appear red at all, but instead looks like a shade of brown. Mark Rothko had personal struggles in life that ultimately lead to his suicide in 1970. His earlier works of bright oranges and yellows reflect his happier years, while his paintings like Black in Deep Red indicate his shift into his state of depression. The black seems to almost “swallow the red” as stated in John Logan’s Red.

Aside from his colors, Rothko creates a sense of perfectly unsymmetrical symmetry by painting three uneven boxes of different colors that seem to flow together. His paintings seem to throb and flow together with drama. The edges are not straight but instead, fuse together to create a seamless transition. Looking at Black in Deep Red, the viewer can either see three unbalanced rectangles with different shades of red, or they can look at his paintings and understand the movement and dimension incorporated with Rothko’s personal story. Rothko’s painting combines order with chaos with his color choices and flow of the boxes. Whether one understands Rothko’s work or not, there is no denying the incredible thought he put into every stroke and every color on his canvas.

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