Roberta Smith writes of the Rothko painting that it “presents a glowing stack in brown, red and black on a red ground.”
She describes the Church painting as “an expanse of shockingly deep red sky with a little sun peeping over a choppy black sea tossing a dark ship.”
Smith describes the colors of both paintings as “blunt” and compares them as follows:
Unburdened by representation, Rothko’s suspended blocks of autonomous color accentuate the strangeness of Church’s palette, especially the array of lavenders, pinks and yellows in his skies.
I always profit from Roberta Smith’s art criticism by feeling that I’ve seen art works (even those I like such as these two) a little more clearly after reading her comments. Her phrase “burden of representation” is striking. In my own modest easel practice, the greater challenge would be to paint non-representationally. In those territories, truly, there be dragons.
(c) 2020 JMN