Saturday, December 31, 2011

Lights Off

”Untitled” a 1955 painting by Mark Rothko, sits on display during a fall auction preview at Sotheby’s in New York. (Tom Starkweather/Bloomberg)

Large paintings immediately framing an entrance in a Mark Rothko show at Sidney Janis Gallery in the mid-fifties.

’As in the past Rothko placed works close together; and if, as happened in one case, a canvas extended beyond its wall and into a doorway, that didn't bother him. He wished, as he had written Katharine Kuh, to ”defeat” the actual physical space of a room. As Janis realized, Rothko ”created an ambience that way. He knew very well how his paintings worked, probably better than . . . any other artist in his generation.” Rothko also used lightning to create an ambience, not the bright light he had sought for his ”Fifteen Americans” room at MOMA, but a very dim light, an obscurity from which the paintings – soon themselves to grow dark – only slowly emerged. This insistence caused some troubles for Janis, who didn't want his commercial space looking like a cave. ”No matter how low it was he would reduce it,” Janis complained. ”It made the gallery so dismal, but he wanted some kind of mystery attached to his painting.” Philip Guston recalled coming with Rothko to visit one of his Janis shows: ”they strolled into the gallery and Mark, without a word, switched off half the lights.” When Janis came out from his office, the three men ”chatted a bit and, in a pause in the conversation, Janis slid off and turned all the lights back on. Rothko didn't say anything.” Janis returned to his office. As the two painters were leaving, just before they entered the elevator, ”Rothko turned half the lights back off again”’

From Mark Rothko: A Biography by James E. B. Breslin

Friday, December 30, 2011

Untitled 1955

Untitled, Mark Rothko, 1955, oil on canvas, 234 x 175,3 cm

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ochre and Red on Red

Ochre and Red on Red, Mark Rothko, 1954, oil on canvas, 235,3 x 162 cm

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Green and Maroon

Green and Maroon, Mark Rothko, 1953, oil on canvas, 231,4 x 139,4 cm

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

No 15

No 15, Mark Rothko, 1952, oil on canvas, 233,3 x 203,2 cm

Monday, December 26, 2011

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

No 8

No 8, Mark Rothko, 1949, oil and mixed media on canvas, 228.3 x 167.3 cm

Friday, December 23, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Untitled 1948

Untitled, Mark Rothko, 1948, 155 x 118.7 cm

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Untitled 1946

Untitled, Mark Rothko, 1946, oil on canvas, 99.9 x 69.9 cm, National Gallery of Art, Washington

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Vision at End of Day

Vision at End of Day, Mark Rothko,1946, oil on canvas, 101.6 x 127.1 cm

Friday, December 16, 2011


Gesture(?), Mark Rothko, 1945/46, oil on canvas, 79.7 x 100.7 cm

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Friday, December 9, 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Black, Black on Wine

Black, Black on Wine, acrylic on paper mounted on panel, 84.4 x 65.4 cm, Mark Rothko, 1968

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Friday, December 2, 2011

Thursday, December 1, 2011

'square grave in the woods'

No. 12 (Black on Dark Sienna on Purple), Mark Rothko, 1960

”it was a childhood memory of his family and relatives talking about a Czarist pogrom. The Cossacks took the Jews from the village to the woods and made them dig a large grave. Rothko said he pictured that square grave in the woods so vividly that he wasn't sure the massacre hadn't happened in his lifetime. He said he’d always been haunted by the image of that grave, and that in some profound way it was locked into his painting.” Al Jensen, a close friend to Mark Rothko, cited by James E. B. Breslin in Mark Rothko: A Biography.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Cry

Untitled (The Cry), Barnett Newman, 1946, brush and ink on paper, 36 x 24 in. The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Sonderkommando Photographs

Birkenau Extermination Camp, 1944, attributed to a prisoner from Greece named Alex.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Sonderkommando Photographs

Birkenau Extermination Camp, 1944, attributed to a prisoner from Greece named Alex.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Sonderkommando Photographs

Birkenau Extermination Camp, 1944, attributed to a prisoner from Greece named Alex.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Sonderkommando Photographs

Images from Birkenau, 1944. 

"The Sonderkommando photographs were taken by members of the Sonderkommando of crematorium V: Alex from Greece (his full name is unknown), Shlomo Dragon and his brother Josel, Alter Szmul Fajnzylberg (known in the camp as Stanisîaw Jankowski), and David Szmulewski. 

/---/A note [describing the images] smuggled out of the camp by the political prisoners Józef Cyrankiewicz and Stanisîaw Kîodziãski on September 4, 1944/.../:

Urgent. Send two iron reels of film (2 1/2 x 3 1/2 in.) as soon as possible. It is possible to take pictures. We send you photographs from Birkenau— people who have been gassed. The photograph shows a heap of bodies piled outdoors. Bodies were burned outdoors when the crematorium could not keep pace with the number of bodies to be burned. In the foreground are bodies ready to be thrown on the heap. Another photo- graph shows one of the places in the forest where people were told to undress, allegedly for a bath, but in fact before being driven to the gas chambers. Send a reel as soon as possible. Send the enclosed photographs to Tell."

From The Sonderkommando Photographs by Dan Stone

More about how the images were taken here


Monday, November 7, 2011

Dead Outside National Palace

Dead outside National Palace during one of the outbreaks, Mexico City, Manuel Ramos, ca. 1913

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Charred Corpse

Charred corpse of a victim of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, Arnold Genthe, April, 1906

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Triple Execution (Postcards from the Mexican Revolution)

Triple execution in Mexico #2, Triple execution in Mexico #3 and Bodies of 3 men lying as they fell after being executed. Walter H. Horne, January 15, 1916

Monday, October 31, 2011

Yncineración (Postcard from the Mexican Revolution)

Yncineración de cadaveres en Balbuena, Mexico, February 1913. Photographer unkown.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Dead SS Guard in the Canal

Dead SS Guard in the Canal, Dachau, Germany, Lee Miller, 1945

Monday, October 24, 2011

Exploding Hand

Untitled (Exploding Hand), Lee Miller, Paris ca.1930