List of illustrations

  • Cover of folder with Mark Rothko's handwritten notation, “Artists Reality”
  • Original manuscript page from The Artist's Reality
  • Bathers, or, Beach Scene
  • Untitled
  • Slow Swirl at the Edge of the Sea
  • Untitled
  • Oedipus
  • Portrait of Mary
  • Untitled
Free
Description: The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art
Contents
PublisherYale University Press
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Description: The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art
Acknowledgments
PublisherYale University Press
Description: The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art
It was something of a legend to me, resting just on the periphery of my consciousness. It had a weightiness and grandeur that probably exceeded its contents and that were fueled no doubt by its very insubstantiality. There is nothing like mystery to swell the dimensions of the unknown or the dimly glimpsed, and in the murky and turbulent waters left in my father’s wake there was indeed little that was certain to grasp...
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Description: The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art
What is the popular conception of the artist? Gather a thousand descriptions, and the resulting composite is the portrait of a moron: he is held to be childish, irresponsible, and ignorant or stupid in everyday affairs.
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Description: The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art
Why paint at all? A question well worth asking all those thousands who, in the catacombs or the garrets of Paris and New York, in the tombs of Egypt or the monasteries of the East, have throughout the ages covered millions of yards of surface with the panoramas of their imaginings. The hopes of immortality and reward, I dare say, might claim their share of...
PublisherYale University Press

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Description: The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art
Art has often been described as a form of escape from action. It has been pointed out that the artist, finding the practical affairs of the world too unpleasant, withdraws from the world of true activity and ensconces himself in a world of the imagination in order to exempt himself from this unpleasantness...
PublisherYale University Press

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Description: The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art
We have seen that men insist upon producing art as a fulfillment of the biological necessity for self-expression. Art is one of the avenues which has afforded satisfactory means, which we may here call a language, for the successful fulfillment of this drive. Art, then, is a definite kind of thing, a species of nature, and like any species in the physical world it...
PublisherYale University Press

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Description: The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art
Artists’ pigments, like printers’ inks, have many uses apart from the creation of art. The advertising artist, the illustrator, the portraitist, the stylist, and the decorator all employ the plastic and pictorial devices of the artist. Yet their chief preoccupation, the purpose and function of their effort, is other than the creation of art. It is the...
PublisherYale University Press

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Description: The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art
A painting is a statement of the artist’s notions of reality in the terms of plastic speech. In that sense the painter must be likened to the philosopher rather than to the scientist. For science is a statement of the laws that govern a specific phenomenon or category of matter or energy within the specified limits and conditions of its operations;...
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Description: The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art
The Renaissance artist did not see his path at once. Mindful of the Greek unity that was the prototype of his activities, he dreamed that, like the Greek, he too could be all in one: priest, scientist, and artist. He did not realize that he was embarking on a course which would inevitably lead him to specialization and, subsequently, to the separation of functions,...
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Description: The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art
We can call this new unity, enabled by the plastic use of light, impressionism. Rothko here is defining the word impressionism for his own purposes, unrelated to the well-known movement, which is discussed in the next chapter. And the word is applicable from this time on not only to the...
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Description: The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art
The impressionism which is connected, in the vernacular, with art such as that of Monet, Sisley, and Pissarro, is really the continuation of the integrity of the light factor in a picture, and from that point of view is no departure from the interests of painting since the end of the myth. These artists, like their predecessors, continued to use light as the chief...
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Description: The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art
This book is devoted mainly to the description of the plastic elements. It is necessary at this point to define what we mean by plasticity. There is no common agreement as to the exact limits of the meaning of this word. Different groups at different times have employed this word to describe desirable attributes in a painting, and they have also described the shortcomings of a work by noting the absence of its plastic qualities...
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Description: The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art
Now what is the essential difference between the sort of space which is characteristic of tactile painting and that which is characteristic of illusory plasticity? And why do we designate one as tactile and the other as illusory? That is, why does one kind of space actually give us the sensation of things that can be felt by touch while the other can be perceived only by the eye, this latter type of perception apparently a specialized or departmentalized function of sight?
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Description: The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art
This discussion of the two types of plasticity—illusory and tactile—brings us to the consideration of beauty. For lack of a better noun to describe the total aim of the painting process, we shall have to use this one in spite of all the variations and the display of particular prejudices which the word involves...
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Description: The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art
The whole notion of naturalness in art has been grievously misconstrued. There has been promulgated a view, which is now popular, that the unnatural appearance of the art of ancient civilizations is due to their ignorance of the manner by which to make the appearance of the depicted objects conform more clearly to the appearance and movement of life.
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Description: The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art
At the very outset of this discussion we must make a series of distinctions which will enable us to speak clearly on this all-important matter. In its actual use in our vernacular, the word subject has an ambiguous connotation. It may refer to the recognizable elements in a picture, such as objects that we know, an anecdote we can recognize, a mood that is familiar to us, or even some more remote association with our experience...
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Description: The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art
Here we must discuss the matter of myth. We all know that the myth provided, let us say, the corporeal body or vehicle for the artist of antiquity, that is, the Greek, Roman, and Christian artist. The same kind of myth functioned similarly for the Egyptian, the Hindu, and, at least partly, for the Chinese painter (particularly the creator of Buddhist Chinese art), as well as the Persian artist...
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Description: The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art
As discussed previously, observing the synthesis or unity that we believe the Greeks or Christians possessed cannot but imbue us with a feeling of envy and desire to formulate one for ourselves. This desire has been intensified by the growth of the collective spirit in our social concepts and institutions. It has been pointed out that the abandonment of the myth...
PublisherYale University Press

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Description: The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art
When discussing primitives and ancients, as we have at various points throughout this work, a distinction must be made between the antique civilizations—that is, the civilization of Greece (and all of the civilizations to which it was indebted at its beginnings, and which were in turn indebted to Greece through their own interaction with it)—and those...
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Description: The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art
The modern art movement must serve us as the springboard from which we can carry on our investigation. Born in the midst of a cultural spirit which has reevaluated the entire panorama of man’s knowledge, it has applied itself to the task of doing that very service for the laws of art. This does not necessarily lead us to the conclusion that its function is simply to tear about and posit rules...
PublisherYale University Press

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Description: The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art
One of the most disheartening manifestations of popular misappropriation in the world of art is the present boom in the traffic of the primitives. Here is another example of how the misappropriation of similarly sounding words that have a contradictory meaning can be so misused as to create whole sciences and, what is more critical, markets, which are a veritable poison to the creation of a real art vernacular in this country...
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Description: The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art
The word indigenous is employed often today by those writers who are concerned with the study of the cultural state of our society. It constitutes an implied wish for an art which might be truly called an American art, in the same sense that there is a Spanish art, or a French or an Italian art. It denotes a self-consciousness about the dependence of our country upon the art of other lands...
PublisherYale University Press

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Description: The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art
List of Illustrations
PublisherYale University Press
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Description: The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art
Index
PublisherYale University Press
The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art
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