Sunday, February 01, 2009


The thing is this: I like Rothko. I really like him. Well, his paintings, I mean. It's wonderful to be able to see these enormous, imposing canvases laid out like this, to be able to stand in front of them and let myself be drawn into those huge expanses of space, that seem so blank and flat and forbidding at first, then, as your eyes adjust, reveal ll kinds of shade, and turn out to be filled with eventfulness, dark reflections of whole other worlds.

What I don't like is being surrounded by hoards of people. Of course it's inevitable, especially when you don't get round to going until the last day of the exhibition, and sure the crowds are nothing compared to the Monet show a few years back. But I really don't need to be surrounded by ghastly, vacuous people, plugged into i-Pods rented at great expense to tell them what someone else thinks about the paintings, talking about them, spouting that pseudo-religious bullshit that surrounds Rothko and cheapens him with every word uttered. I don't want any of that stuff. I don't want anything, physical or emotional or conceptual, to get between me and the canvas. I just want to be there, face to face with that thing that requires no words of explanation, that just is.

1 comment:

Ben.H said...

I have to agree about those audioguide things, and anything which insists on telling you how to look at the art or explain what it means.

At least they confined wall text to a brief gloss at the entrance to each room. For a while there a lot of museums were getting seriously out of control in plonking biographical trivia wherever they could.