Rothko materials and techniques lesson at MoMA teen conservation course | AT THE MUSEUM

Rothko materials and techniques lesson at MoMA teen conservation course | AT THE MUSEUM


What I was thinking we could do is just kind
of look at the unique qualities of your first layer and kind of think about how you want
to work with those qualities and decide on a composition. So you’re playing artist now. Think about the composition that’s already
there and how you might be able to work with it by adding black in some way. Does anybody remember what kind of medium
this paint was in? Oil? What? It’s like an oily grey? It’s similar. It’s an alkyd resin, so it’s soluble in
the same materials that oil is but this is a kind of paint that was first
sold as like a household paint, and was then marketed to artists later on starting in like
the ’70s so Rothko was more likely using something
that he picked up in the hardware store or something like that. I’m going to give you just a little bit. Before you start painting take a closer look at the little photos of
the Rothko and I want you to just kind of absorb the
qualities. Like we did in the very beginning, we’re
going to really clean off the brush like just pick up a tiny bit and just slowly
build it up. Do you see how at the edge of his shapes it’s
sort of feathered out? So you can see sort of like a brushy edge
to it where it gets even more transparent? This is a slow buildup of paint. And this stuff doesn’t come out of clothes,
right? I would try not to get it on your clothes… Okay. Great. Does anybody remember what kind of layer I
put on for you this week? Rosin…rosin I think? That layer? It was similar to rosin. It was a damar resin. Is that what Rothko did? Yeah. Yeah, so all of these materials we’re using
are based on his original materials. Did Rothko ever make anything other than like
his iconic paintings? Yeah. Yeah, yeah. His early paintings are almost unrecognizable
from these. Really? Yeah. Were they still like abstract? Um, the ones I’m familiar with are kind
of abstract. They’re sort of dreamlike abstractions. A little like Miró almost. I feel like if Rothko were to come here he’d be like, “No, you’re doing it wrong,”
and then like… Well he was very, very secretive about his
technique actually so he would probably be furious that we’re
doing this at all… So… [laughter]

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