Monday, March 2, 2009


untitled (plum and dark brown) - 1964

your paintings are like my films. they are about nothing... with precision

michelangelo antonioni to mark rothko, during a visit to rothko's studio in 1962, according to motherwell and peter selz
see temps mort: rothko and antonioni by jeffrey weiss
found in mark rothko published by skira - 2008
for the complete story


the art of memory said...

(sorry for the lack of posts lately... rough times... hope to change the frequency soon)

Yoel Meranda said...

I'm curious to know what was Rothko's honest reaction to this. Perhaps he appreciated Antonioni's words but Rothko thought his paintings had content.

He said once: "I'm not interested in the relationship of colour or form or anything else. I'm interested only in expressing basic human emotions tragedy, ecstasy, doom and so on...The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience as I had when I painted them."

As for Antonioni, I think he values his films too much by calling them "about nothing."

Very nice blog!

the art of memory said...

i believe this nothingness is the ultimate expression, everything else seems unimportant
i think that is what attracts me so much to rothko especially, and partly to antonioni

Yoel Meranda said...

I think I agree with you... but not with Antonioni.

Nothingness, especially when its opposite is also expressed, is hugely important. I'm thinking especially of D.H. Lawrence.

Greatest art make me feel the whole cosmos disappear, and make me "see" that being and nothing are not so different after all.

Brakhage made a movie called "Cannot Exist" then made another one called "Cannot (Not) Exist".

I agree that Rothko makes us feel a lot about the great Nothing... I don't think that's true for Antonioni but then again I haven't seen that many because I didn't love what I saw.

the art of memory said...

yes, that is why i said partly,
antonioni was attracted to nothingness, from watching his films, though "nothing" like rothko, fontana, yves klein, agnes martin, etc. i do have trouble with his work sometimes

Anonymous said...

Recently I watched Antonioni's The Passenger and this scene is still stuck in my mind:

Is this his 'nothingness'?

I have just discovered this blog by chance, I was looking for a picture of a Rothko's painting and decided to pick the one you have posted here. I added a link to this post on one of my Vimeo pages. I hope you don't mind.



the art of memory said...

thanks for the link elisabetta.
i guess that is a good example of nothingness. a teacher had told me michael snow shot that last sequence, but i looked around quite a bit and found nothing written about it. would have been interesting if he had though, looks like a michael snow film. i think that is my favourite antonioni moment, very rothkoesque.

Anonymous said...

I have never heard of Michael Snow. I looked him up but I could not find anything about him shooting that scene. The author of an article about this movie credits Luciano Tovoli for the camerawork. It is rather interesting to read how Antonioni and his crew figured out how to shoot that long scene...

Jeez the certainly needed a lot of imagination and a good grasp on how to solve technical problems! All that work and sweat to film 'nothingness'...

the art of memory said...

the last shot (and a couple others, like the camera that goes around the table) is very similar to what the structuralist filmmakers were doing, like michael snow and ernie gehr.

thanks for that link, i haven't heard the stories.

there are some truly amazing shots in the film. i always kind of liked this film best by him