(Mark Rothko, Light Red Over Black, 1957, Tate)
So in my Cognition and Learning class today, we watched a clip from a PBS special, Brain Fitness 2: Sight and Sound. There was a Harvard physiologist on the show who talks about the biology of sight, and how it affects the way we see art. She said something about Rothko’s lack of solid lines and clear boundaries in his paintings added to their “creepiness.” Everyone else just took it in, but I let out a sort of embarrassing guffaw. Do you think Rothko is creepy? Personally, I think he’s lovely. And I do think that his paintings have an emotional effect on me. I remember standing in front of my first at the Tate Modern, and… just feeling. No creepiness. Maybe a tear or two. Kind of like the visual equivalent of feeling yourself sing in harmony with someone (I know many of you doubt my abilities to sing in harmony with anyone, but as kids my sister and I used to do this for fun, and it worked, maybe only because we essentially have the same voice. Anyway.). I think she’s onto something, I just don’t think “creepy” is quite right. Her book, Vision and Art: The Biology of Seeing, is on my list… And if the image above doesn’t win you over, maybe others will.