Oregon Movies, A to Z

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Pictures Must Be Miraculous

October 1st, 2008 by Anne Richardson · 1 Comment · Oregon artist, Oregon painter


“I hate and distrust all art historians, experts, and critics. Their work not only is useless, it is misleading. They can say nothing worth listening to about art or the artist, aside from personal gossip, which I grant you can sometimes be interesting.” Mark Rothko

I honor Rothko as the greatest artist Oregon has produced. His abstract paintings, while mystifying to others, are instantly recognizable to all Portlanders as detailed portraits of the various mood states induced by our city’s sunless winters. I honor his epigrams ““Silence is so accurate”” and “Pictures must be miraculous.” I honor his reputation for being a contrarian of first rank, for deliberately creating paintings for his Four Seasons restaurant commission which he hoped would cause patrons to lose their appetites. But most of all, I honor him because I cannot find one instance in the recent biography by James E. B. Breslin of Mark Rothko ever going to see a movie.

Perhaps he did, and we just don’t know about it.

He did study acting. He did this briefly, here in Portland, just before he began painting. He studied under Josephine Dillon, who would have paid more attention to him but she was busy falling in love with Clark Gable.

This is what Oregon Movies, A to Z is all about. Here it will all come down to movies. Let other people discuss the impact of Mark Rothko’’s Portland childhood on his adult paintings.  Let other people puzzle over the significance of the automatic drawings reputed to lie under his mysterious blocks of color. While everyone else gets the important stuff covered, I am going straight for the dessert. I am going to talk about Mark Rothko in terms of Clark Gable. At least I can do so knowing I have his gossipy blessing.

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