Archives for posts with tag: Painting

I have spoken about Rothko before, both here and elsewhere ( Today we heard that the repair needed to restore Black on Maroon, which was defaced during a graffiti attack at Tate Modern in October this year, could take at least 18 months. The reason for this, is that the ink from the pen used in the act leaked deeper than first realised. In addition, as Rothko’s technique was that of painting layer upon layer, the damaged portion will need to be stripped and restored in the same manner.

Just last week, another painting of Rothko’s,¬†No. 1 (Royal Red and Blue), was sold at Sotheby’s New York for $75.1 million, the second-highest price ever paid for a Rothko piece. The anticipated sale figure had been $35 to $50 million.

Whether the graffiti episode influenced the eventual sale price, I have no idea. The man responsible for the defacement at the time claimed that his actions had added value to Black on Maroon

Re-reading Simon Schama on Rothko (, I have been similarly transfixed by the artist’s works. Schama, on the Seagram paintings:

‘Rothko said his paintings begin an unknown adventure into an unknown space…¬†Everything Rothko did to these paintings – the column-like forms suggested rather than drawn and the loose stainings – were all meant to make the surface ambiguous, porous, perhaps softly penetrable. A space that might be where we came from or where we will end up.

They’re not meant to keep us out, but to embrace us; from an artist whose highest compliment was to call you a human being.’

Rothko committed suicide in 1970. We will never know, or cannot even speculate, what he would have thought of the current events that surround his legacy, his art.


Watching the Culture Show on BBC iplayer (, I was particularly interested in the piece on John Bellany, currently the most celebrated of contemporary Scottish artists.

The piece links to a major retrospective on Bellany’s work, ‘A Passion for Life’, which has just opened at The National Gallery Scotland. The artist, at 70, is as productive as ever, if not more so.

Bellany’s life has been a turbulent one, dominated early on by alcoholism, which led to a successful liver transplant in 1988. What helped him through his suffering and pain, and since, has been art. He does not separate his work from the personal, believing that this is what in fact defines fine art.

In 2010, the documentary Bellany – Fire in the Blood by the artist’s son Paul was first screened. It is the moving story of a family imploding due to Bellany’s alcoholism, and then coming together again.

The artist absolutely believes that painting has saved him. Following his transplant, his work changed, becoming more colourful and vibrant. He suddenly saw the world in cinemascope, whereas previously it had been cloaked in a haze.

Of painting, Bellany at 70 says ‘I love it so much’.

He also states:

‘I love being alive.’…