Mondrian vs. Rothko

More from SFMOMA. A good comparison here. Both artists being crushed by Lord Hammer, Piet Mondrian on the left and Mark Rothko on the right, painting very abstractly. Pure abstraction. In that sense, very similar. But there is a gigantic difference in how each painter viewed abstraction. I love talking about this stuff in my classes. Ask me about it if you see me and have like 17 hours to kill. The short version is this: Mondrian was a Modernist, and, as abstract as his painting got, he never left the idea that the painting was a visual representation of the world, an idea that had held since the beginning of Western art. Mark Rothko came after him and was part of the New York School (“Abstract Expressionism”) which in the ’50′s made the big conceptual leap in painting where they rejected the idea that a painting was an image of something. It wasn’t a representation of something else. Not to take anything away from Mondrian, because he was awesome. But Truth in paint. That’s what the New York School was talking about. Discuss.

ps. everyone should stand in front of a Rothko as I am doing here, if they get the chance

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