If you look at the top of every page on this site, you’ll notice there is a prominent header image. If you’ve paid any sort of repeated attention to the posts on this site, you’ll notice I have different headers for different themes and series. Lent, Easter, Women in Ministry, The Bible, Theology, Art, Personal, Political, Writing, and my upcoming Guatemala posts each have their own distinct headers.
Throughout this year’s Advent series, I’ve used a cropped version of the above piece as the header image. It’s called Black Fire by Barnett Newman. Until recently, it hung for many years in the abstract expressionism room in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I’ve spent much time sitting in the presence of this piece, contemplating it’s meaning.
I’ve mentioned before on this blog (though admittedly in passing) that my favorite artist is Mark Rothko, the 20th century abstract expressionist. He’s often made fun of because his pieces are, usually, blocks of color on canvas. So many people (and I was one of them) look at his pieces and say “Where’s the skill in that? Anyone could do that! How is this art?”
The big turn for me happened several years ago when studying for the lecture/series I did on Beauty. As I spent nearly a year immersing myself in the philosophy, theory, and theology of aesthetics, I came to finally “get” abstract art. And with it, I realized how to connect with Rothko; and my art sensibilities have been the same since. For more, read my post on the beauty of art.
Still don’t get it? Here’s a quick exercise. Look at the two pieces below. The one on the right is the genuine Rothko. The one on the left is one of those reproductions where someone paints it inch for inch as close to the original as possible.