Cover image for The artist's reality : philosophies of art
The artist's reality : philosophies of art
Rothko, Mark, 1903-1970.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New Haven ; London : Yale University Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
xxxi, 136 pages : color illustrations ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Introduction / by Christopher Rothko -- The artist's dilemma -- Art as a natural biological function -- Art as a form of action -- The integrity of the plastic process -- Plasticity -- Space -- Beauty -- Naturalism -- Subject and subject matter -- Art, reality, and sensuality -- Particularization and generalization -- Generalization since the Renaissance -- Emotional and dramatic impressionism -- Objective impressionism -- The myth -- The attempted myth of today -- Primitive civilizations' influence on modern art -- Modern art -- Primitivism -- Indigenous art.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ND237.R725 A35 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



One of the most important artists of the twentieth century, Mark Rothko (1903-1970) created a new and impassioned form of abstract painting over the course of his career. Rothko also wrote a number of essays and critical reviews during his lifetime, adding his thoughtful, intelligent, and opinionated voice to the debates of the contemporary art world. Although the artist never published a book of his varied and complex views, his heirs indicate that he occasionally spoke of the existence of such a manuscript to friends and colleagues. Stored in a New York City warehouse since the artist's death more than thirty years ago, this extraordinary manuscript, titled The Artist's Reality, is now being published for the first time.
Probably written around 1940-41, this revelatory book discusses Rothko's ideas on the modern art world, art history, myth, beauty, the challenges of being an artist in society, the true nature of "American art," and much more. The Artist's Reality also includes an introduction by Christopher Rothko, the artist's son, who describes the discovery of the manuscript and the complicated and fascinating process of bringing the manuscript to publication. The introduction is illustrated with a small selection of relevant examples of the artist's own work as well as with reproductions of pages from the actual manuscript.
The Artist's Reality will be a classic text for years to come, offering insight into both the work and the artistic philosophies of this great painter.

Author Notes

Mark Rothko was born in Russia and came to the United States with his family in 1913. A major figure in New York's Abstract Expressionist movement, he has been the subject of retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Art, Washington, the Guggenheim Museum, and other major museums around the world. Christopher Rothko is a writer and psychologist and is actively involved in managing the Rothko legacy. He lives in New York City.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

While major 20th-century abstract artist Rothko (1903-1980) left a record of his ideas about art and method in several essays and reviews, rumors circulated about the existence of a full-length monograph on the philosophy of art. Rothko himself never brought it forth, and it was not found at his death. Probably written in the early 1940s, the newly discovered manuscript provides Rothko?s considerable insights into topics ranging from art as a form of action to plasticity, naturalism and primitivism. For Rothko, ?Art is not only a form of action, it is a form of social action. For art is a form of communication.? Thus beauty resides less in objects than in ?a certain type of emotional exaltation which is a result of stimulation by certain qualities common to all great works of art.? An introduction by Rothko?s son, Christopher, provides the details of the discovery of the manuscript as well as a nice short biography of Rothko. The whole offers fascinating insights into the ways a major artist thought about his medium and its conceptual premises. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Choice Review

According to his son and editor, Christopher Rothko, his father's artwork seeks to express the inexpressible and is far removed from the realm of words. However, this book, dating from 1940-41, was written before his signature, abstract style had matured. "My father wrote the book because he could not, at that point, express the ideas it contained to his satisfaction in his own painting; and he abandoned the project because of a reawakening in his painting that allowed him to express those ideas more effectively through art than he could on paper." Without discussing his work directly, Mark Rothko describes what artists do, what their relationships to ideas are, and how artists go about expressing them. He discusses art as an observer, not as one actively engaged in the processes he describes, and at the same time clearly conveys his abiding conviction that all philosophy, all art, must address the human element. It is an unpolished, unfinished work written without benefit of formal training in either philosophy or art history; yet, it is a wonderful gift on many levels, providing a unique insight into the worldview of one of the pivotal figures of 20th-century art. ^BSumming Up: Essential. Upper-division undergraduates through professionals. R. M. Davis Albion College