Forum / The American Cubist

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    Chris Okum
    Oct 01, 03:57pm

    The American Cubist painter Charles Green Shaw (1892-1974) liked to prank call his fellow artists, always in the middle of the night, usually after he had finished another piece. Mark Rothko was on the receiving end of these phone calls more than most. Shaw had a hard time figuring out Rothko, who would pick up the phone, say hello and then not say another word for ten minutes. He thought this was funny? He was punishing himself? Shaw always assumed the latter, and it made him like Rothko a little less. Self-imposed silence is a form of total protest or complete consent. With Rothko, thought Shaw, it could go either way. But who knew? It was Rothko, the man was tighter than a summer squash. Everything was a secret with Rothko. Rothko with the secrets. All those secrets. Another thing about Rothko: there was nothing where something should have been. And did you hear this one? You know what's so great about owning a Rothko? A Rothko hangs itself. Or something to that effect. This was a joke making the rounds years after Rothko's suicide. Shaw laughed the first time he heard the joke as told by Frank Stella. The second time he heard the joked he laughed even harder. Shaw liked to end every prank call with a fart directly into the receiver. This was his signature.

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    Dianne McKnight-Warren
    Oct 06, 04:39pm

    I love Rothko. Have a print hanging in my house. It's tiny of course compared to the original, more decorative than serious. He would have hated it I think. I read somewhere that humans are attracted to flat horizons. Maybe that explains, in part, my fondness for Rothko's work?

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    Chris Okum
    Oct 06, 04:58pm

    My fondness for Rothko's work is that I feel there is something behind (or hidden?) his colors that he doesn't want me to see, something so awful that it needs to be covered up. I think he would hate this interpretation even more than your small print.

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    Dianne McKnight-Warren
    Oct 06, 05:22pm

    I like your interpretation. To me his work is easy to live with, pleasant without being simple. I'll have to think about the hidden part. I like that.

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    James Lloyd Davis
    Oct 06, 09:22pm

    One of my favorite places in all the world is the Rothko Chapel in Houston... though it's been 15 or so years since last I was there. Whenever I was close, I'd stop in just to sit in the silence and see the subtlety of changes in the panels... and when it wasn't raining, to sit outside in the park. Doubt that I'll make it there again, but hey....

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    Chris Okum
    Oct 06, 09:41pm

    I want to see the Rothko Chapel before I die. It seems like one of the last true holy places on planet Earth.

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