Black on Maroon by Mark Rothko, 1959.
Mark Rothko had a commison in the late 50's with Canadian distiller Seagrams to paint a series for the Four Seasons in New York for $35,000...which would be $2.5 million today. He struggled and worked on these paintings for months. One evening he and his wife went for dinner at the Four Seasons and the next morning he called the contractor and dropped his contract, saying...the people who would eat that food and pay that kind of money for that food will not see his art.
If you get a chance check out Shama's Power of Art, especially the Rothko episode. I was crying by the end of the segment merely looking at his art on the tv, it was so beautiful. I don't think I've ever seen his work in the flesh without getting on my knees before it despite being in a public setting. He was the real deal.
Who, today, would walk away from 2.5 million believing that art is "not made for historians or design students but for humans"?
No.15 by Mark Rothko, 1952.
In the June 13, 1943 edition of the New York Times, Rothko, together with Adolph Gottlieb and Barnett Newman, published the following brief manifesto:
"1. To us art is an adventure into an unknown world, which can be explored only by those willing to take the risks.
"2. This world of imagination is fancy-free and violently opposed to common sense.
"3. It is our function as artists to make the spectator see the world our way not his way.
"4. We favor the simple expression of the complex thought. We are for the large shape because it has the impact of the unequivocal. We wish to reassert the picture plane. We are for flat forms because they destroy illusion and reveal truth.
"5. It is a widely accepted notion among painters that it does not matter what one paints as long as it is well painted."
[Rothko said "this is the essence of academicism".]
"There is no such thing as a good painting about nothing.
"We assert that the subject is crucial and only that subject matter is valid which is tragic and timeless. That is why we profess spiritual kinship with primitive and archaic art."