Sunset from our bedroom window
Mark Rothko denied his abstract paintings were in any way supposed to be landscapes, although he is reported to have said at the 1964 Turner show in
“Nobody of any real culture, for instance, ever talks nowadays about the beauty of a sunset. Sunsets are quite old fashioned. They belong to the time when Turner was the last note in art. To admire them is a distinct sign of provincialism of temperament. Upon the other hand they go on. Yesterday evening Mrs Arundel insisted on my going to the window, and looking at the glorious sky, as she called it. Of course I had to look at it. She is one of those absurdly pretty Philistines to whom one can deny nothing. And what was it? It was simply a very second-rate Turner, a Turner of a bad period, with all the painter’s worst faults exaggerated and over-emphasised.”The question this raises in relation to Rothko is over the extent to which our aesthetic response to landscapes is now affected by the form of Rothko’s paintings, even though Rothko himself was engaged in abstract expressionism. And whether this in turn leads artists to adopt Rothko-like compositions for their landscapes, as in Andreas Gursky’s Rhein (1996).