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Rothko and Music

In excerpt from his new book, Mark Rothko: from the Inside Out (Yale University Press), Christopher Rothko reflects on his father’s love of music (in particular Mozart) and its influence on his paintings.

Christopher Rothko writes: “Rothko paintings, at their most affective, do engage us in a full-body experience touching all the senses. On the most basic level, we see the paintings, but if you suspend the experience at your visual receptors, you have not really seen a Rothko. Like music, Rothko paintings offer a gateway to our inner selves. They evoke a visceral reaction that in turn sparks feelings and engages our minds, one that indeed offers great riches because all can speak it. In this way, they provide a basic level of human connection that starts between the artist and the viewer, but extends to how we speak with the world around us.”