Cultural Discourse looks at a broad range of cultural issues.
26th June 2012

On Mark Rothko

Mark Rothko and the Fate of Being

An Essay by John David Ebert


In a series of paintings executed in 1946, Mark Rothko, for the first time in his art, began to create a unique, signature style. For twenty years, he had been trying, and mostly failing, to discover a vision that persistently eluded him through a series of pastiches, first, of nineteenth century Impressionist masters like Cezanne, and then, from about 1940, of Modernist giants like Picasso, Miro and Matta. These early works, however, while sometimes brilliant, were almost never original, and it wasn’t until he began to melt down the Modernist iconotypes in those 1946 paintings known as “multiforms” that he began to articulate something truly new. Indeed these paintings are tantamount to a complete singularity, a rupture, not only with all his previous work, but with the history of twentieth century art, as well. For these canvases function like X rays to reveal the collapse and dissolution of Modernist art, an art that, by the time of World War II, had largely run its course.

But since Rothko’s art is all about the fate of the West’s understanding of Being, it will be necessary, at the start, to briefly review the history of that understanding. Read the rest of this entry »

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21st June 2012

On Francis Bacon

The Art of Francis Bacon

An Essay by John David Ebert


Francis Bacon’s art is the kind of art that surfaces into view when a World collapses. Like the art of Hieronymous Bosch or Pieter Brueghel, which unleashed a cavalcade of horrors at precisely the time when the Christian macrosphere was undergoing disintegration due to the impacts of new tools and principles of the scientific age then dawing — i.e. the perspectival grid captured in Durer’s 1525 woodcut of a Draughtsman Drawing a Recumbent Woman; the retrieval of Platonic mathematics by Copernicus — such an art opens up the Gates of Hell, as it were, and unleashes a flood of cosmic monsters which the functioning macrosphere had been specifically erected to defend Civilization against. Just as the walls of Medieval cities had kept the siegeing armies of the Vikings and later, the Moors at bay, so too, the Western mind had built ontological walls designed to keep the demons from the world Out There from infiltrating the collective consciousness of European society. Read the rest of this entry »

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