“Pictures must be miraculous” – Mark Rothko in 1947
I am lucky enough to live just a few blocks from MOMA so I get the chance to visit shows more than once and spend time with paintings that I love.
The first few times I went to see Abstract Expressionist New York I couldn’t get past the rooms of Rothkos and Pollocks where you are surrounded on all sides by their paintings. The feeling you get is summed up by Hedda Sterne, the only woman in the famous 1951 Life magazine cover of the Abstract Expressionist painters, The Irascibles :
Leonardo drew things to explain them to himself…. That’s an essential quality of any work of art, the authenticity of the need for understanding. I once told Barney [Newman] a story which he wanted to adopt as the motto for the Abstract Expressionists: A little girl is drawing and her mother asks her what are you drawing? And she says, “I’m drawing God.” And the mother says, “How can you draw god when you don’t know what he is?” And she says, “That’s why I draw him.” (The New York Review of Books)