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Ghost Canyon

'American Masters: Rothko'
(DVD / PG / 2020 / PBS)

Overview: Mark Rothko is considered one of the most renowned figures of the Abstract Expressionists, though he refused to adhere to any art movement.

For Rothko, both painting viewing of his work was considered a spiritual experience.

This documentary profiles the life and work of a man who often wrestled with great sadness even as he transformed the course of American art with his uncompromising vision.

DVD Verdict: Celebrated painter Mark Rothko (born Markus Yakovlevich Rothkowitz), was an American painter of Lithuanian Jewish descent.

Although Rothko himself refused to adhere to any art movement, he is generally identified as an abstract expressionist.

Furthermore, he is considered one of the most renowned figures of the Abstract Expressionist movement and transformed the world of art beginning in the 1940s.

In 'Rothko: Pictures Must Be Miraculous' PBS explores the artist's tumultuous journey and includes interviews with Rothko's daughter Kate and son Christopher, Academy Award-nominated writer John Logan, and scenes from the Tony Award-winning play "Red," with Alfred Molina in the role of Mark Rothko.

We also learn some rather interesting facts about Rothko, such as like in 1936, he began writing a book, never completed, about similarities in the art of children and the work of modern painters.

According to Rothko, the work of modernists, influenced by primitive art, could be compared to that of children in that "child art transforms itself into primitivism, which is only the child producing a mimicry of himself."

We also learn that fearing that modern American painting had reached a conceptual dead end, Rothko was intent upon exploring subjects other than urban and nature scenes.

He sought subjects that would complement his growing interest with form, space, and color. The world crisis of war gave this search a sense of immediacy.

Indeed, he insisted that the new subject matter have a social impact, yet be able to transcend the confines of current political symbols and values.

In his essay "The Romantics Were Prompted," published in 1948, Rothko argued that the "archaic artist ... found it necessary to create a group of intermediaries, monsters, hybrids, gods and demigods," in much the same way that modern man found intermediaries in Fascism and the Communist Party.

For Rothko, and simply put, "without monsters and gods, art cannot enact a drama." Learn more about these musings along with a whole host more in this quite magnificent new documentary from PBS. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Bonus Material of 6 Features!