Monday, 29 September 2008


Mark Rothko’s suite of late murals, originally commissioned for the Four Seasons restaurant in New York in 1958, are now the subject of the New Tate’s retrospective examination of his late work. Rothko, in the event, withdrew from the original commission and donated the paintings to the Tate where they arrived on the day he ended his life - February 25, 1970.

Obviously, a glorious failure!

And below are AA Gill, the Sunday Times food critic and Waldemar Januszczak, its art critic. The former giving an uncannily accurate impersonation of the artistic reviewer, the latter prostrate at Rothko’s feet with a moon-calf look in his eyes in what is a very credible simulation of pubescent infatuation. One is in italics, the other in Trebuchet font. But it is for you to decide who is who, i.e. who talks about artistic canvases and who talks about palatable gourmandise:

“Doomy weightiness has been replaced by a rich set of soaring sensations.”

“It’s all done without overt decoration or fuss, without adjectives or
exclamation marks.”

“a glorious ocean of linked variations”

“an inspired and complementary match”

“We have here a gorgeous restaurant decoration that appears, on this
evidence, to be completely uninterested in the big truths of the cosmos.”

“It is a masterclass in the metaphysics of how, what and why...”

“You will keep returning to this dramatic rethink for further doses of

“ paint dripped into a glass of water, opaque filigree swathes and
fretted blots whitening out the miraculous landscapes...”

“...remarkable for their skilled manipulation of
glares and reflections and not their tonal bleakness.”

“The combinations of flavours and textures and methods are challenging, but
never overpowering, and often astonishing...”

“The thick fog of spirituality is blown away ... allowing it to breathe
more easily”

“There is none of the faux ponce or haute civility, not the merest whiff of
provincial grandeur that always comes with ...”

...comes with what? Dadaism, Etruscan cutlery, fresh trout grilled over
charcoal, Fauvism, Cubism, Futurism, or chicken korma from Calcutta? The
euphemisms, as it happens, are valid for either.

“It’s difficult to talk about the emotion of food; it’s plainly an element of eating that goes beyond
epicurean pleasure,” says AA Gill - which rationalization, in the event, is the
same for both. There are few facts but much room for synonyms. Oblivious that he is becoming a parody of himself, Januszczak’s brain seems a sort of gastronomic
belly or diaphragm which quivers in response to every culinary input from its
artistic surroundings and - pardon my hubris - regurgitates this type of
blatant, expedient humdrum horse-shit that even a prepubescent adolescent
wouldn‘t be taken in by: “those famously morose burgundy twilights in which
Stonehenge shapes loom up fuzzily in a claret-coloured gloom.”

Which brings me to Mark Rothko: "There is more power in telling little than in telling all!"

Of one thing we can be certain though, whether we divide art critics psychologically or ethically,
aesthetically or commercially, into vehicles of ambition or repositories of
benevolence, into male or female, black or white, vertically, horizontally or
diagonally, and solemnly conclude that creative ingenuity is in fact compatible
with full mental health, they still show the same dichotomy: the everlasting
struggle between the immovable object and the irresistible force, which is as
old as art itself and as inevitable as the rivalry between the sanguine, the
melancholy, the choleric and the phlegmatic, however trivially motivated and
carried on for whatever purpose. Their integrity, thus, is not in question. The
comedy lies in the fact that when all is said and done, though art can only have
the life of its beholder and may not be worth a warm bucket of spit, they’ve
actually come to believe in it...



John Bull said...

Yes, yes, all very well, but when are you going to show us yer fanny?

Selena Dreamy said...

Fanny viewings will be held at midnight, privately and for invited members only...


John Bull said...

My member thinks you're very inviting, does that count?

PS At least give us some knicker shots, you magnificent scrubber.

Anonymous said...

Those paintings look like Ikea rugs....

Selena Dreamy said...

How dare you Mutley, that is supposed to be “a glorious ocean of linked variations” unless, of course - like to other advanced alcoholics - it is “a rich set of soaring sensations.”


Anonymous said...


They do look like Ikea rugs though...

Helen said...

Gustatory adoration of Rothko aside, the entire persuasion should be called to task for ignoring Anni and her wimmen's work. Sorry, but the theme is a frequent one of mine, particularly when I’m confronted with the progeny’s success.

Selena Dreamy said...

My quarrel is not actually with Rothko, my quarrel is with the art-critic who has attributed to the murals what I attribute to puerile ("gustatory") infatuation...