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Mark Rothko and the Spiritual in Art

Weekend Lecture/Seminar

Sunday, April 7, 2024 - 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET
Code: 1H0811
This online program is presented on Zoom.
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Red by Mark Rothko, 1968 (G. Starke/CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED)

The most daring development in modern art in the first half of the 20th century was the step into abstraction—the decision to make paintings that were no longer pictures of the visible world but simply paintings. Abstraction elicited both excitement and anxiety (“What is to replace the object?”). Painters looked to new sources for the kind of structure that observation once provided: to music (seen as the very model of an abstract art); the logic of geometry; the forces of emotion and spirituality; the material facts of paint and canvas; and scientific developments that revealed new ways to “see” the world, from X-rays to Einstein’s special theory of relativity.

Artists from several countries hoped that abstraction might become a lingua franca, transcending cultural differences. While that did not quite happen, the energies unleashed by abstraction and the search for the spiritual in art were far-reaching. Art historian David Gariff discusses the complex relationship between art and spirituality through works of Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, and their European counterparts Wassily Kandinsky and Piet Mondrian.

World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1/2 credit*

General Information

*Enrolled participants in the World Art History Certificate Program receive 1/2 elective credit. Not yet enrolled? Learn about the program, its benefits, and how to register here.